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DHS news release

May 5, 2006

Media contact: Tom Towslee (503) 947-5207
Program contact: C J Reid (503) 945-9813

Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse delivers biennial report to governor and legislature

The Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs delivered its biennial report to the Governor and State Legislature today. The report provides an overview of alcohol and drug treatment programs in Oregon and recommendations for the 2007-09 legislative session.

"The data show that time is running out for Oregon to act," said Council Chair Ann Uhler of Tigard. "For example, foster care has increased by 45 percent over the past four years due to a huge increase in drug- and alcohol-related arrests."

The Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs was created in 1985 to assess, review and make recommendations to the Governor and the legislature on the goals, financing, priorities and a state plan for prevention, intervention and treatment of alcohol and drug abuse problems, which encompasses all appropriate state agencies, each even-numbered year. Statutes creating the Council and establishing its duties include ORS 430.250, 430.255, and 430.257.

The report shows that access to alcohol and other drug treatment has declined significantly over the past four years. "During that period, the Legislature reduced treatment services by at least $45 million," Uhler said.

The recommendations and data are included in what the council calls a business plan for rebuilding substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. The recommendations include a 20 percent increase in publicly financed treatment; doubling state-financed prevention efforts to $4.5 million; and 15 percent increase in payments to treatment providers in the 2005-07 biennium.

Among other recommendations in the report:

  • Increase drug-free housing by at least 2,000 beds statewide. The council report says nearly 4,000 Oregonians need drug-free housing.
  • Increase substance-abuse treatment for prison inmates and those who have been released by 20 percent. Oregon Department of Corrections says 66 percent of men and 80 percent of women have a history of alcohol and other drug abuse.
  • Increase the number of state police officers. This in response to data showing that 40 percent of 2003 traffic fatalities were related to alcohol or drug intoxication.

As a result of decreased public funding for treatment, the report says, "public treatment access has been reduced by 18 percent in the last four years (2001-02 to 2004-05)." The report says Oregon served 71 percent of the estimated number of people needing publicly financed alcohol and other drug treatment four years ago compared with 53 percent during 2004-05.

"With the above reductions and 9.4 percent growth in state population," the report concludes, "we estimate that services need to be increased by at least 43 percent to meet the needs of those who are ready for treatment." Initiating treatment when people are ready is considered an important element in treatment success.

The report says that treatment programs have been overwhelmed by methamphetamine-related admissions. For the past decade, Oregon has led the nation in the share of treatments associated with methamphetamine addiction.

Ulher said studies have shown that $1 devoted to treatment pays back $5 to $7 in reduced costs to support health care, emergency room visits, policing and the court system.