REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
HB 4143 (Opioids Task Force), APDC EO, and related HB 4137
March 27, 2018
Good afternoon, I’m Governor Kate Brown.
I’m just one Oregonian among thousands who has felt the impacts of addiction on my family, on my friends, and on my colleagues.
It is so urgent to let people know that they are not alone in their own fights against addiction.
Addiction recovery is an issue that unites us all.
To turn the tide on this crisis, we have to make strides on addiction prevention, on treatment, and on recovery support.
This means providing better access to treatments that set people on a recovery path that works for them. This means doing everything in our power to keep from losing one more person.
And today, I’m proud to sign legislation and an executive order that does just that. I am declaring addiction to be a public health crisis in Oregon, and have outlined concrete steps to fight the opioid epidemic.
There are so many people here today who have played a key role in this fight. My Opioids Task Force has done incredible work to define and address our most pressing issues. Thank you, Judge Bloch, for sharing some insight from that perspective. Representative Sanchez has been a tireless supporter of this cause through her advocacy and her own legislative proposals. And I want to applaud the day-in, day-out work of our community partners, like Oregon Recovers, and our host, Lines for Life. Thank you all.
We all know that addiction is blind to circumstance, but its highest costs are borne by our children, whose parents are unable to care for them while struggling with addiction. It is the number one driver of placements in our foster care system.
Right now, the federal government recognizes the problem, but is focused on punishment. That leaves us, the states, to right the wrongs of a war on drugs that has done absolutely nothing to address the issues that drive this public health crisis, while our prisons and our foster care systems are filled to capacity with its victims.
If we can make meaningful change in addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery, we can create better lives for our families. We can see more success for our students in school. We can lift a burden off our hospitals. And our law enforcement. And our prisons.
We will do that by lowering barriers people face to comprehensive behavioral health. We will do that by getting rid of fail first policies. We will do that by implementing creative programs. Lines for Life is a great example of that. The volunteers give hope and tools for addiction recovery. I’m excited to see pilot programs launch across the state, including a Peer Recovery Mentor Program, which provides a warm hand off from overdose in the emergency room into supportive treatment and recovery.
And we will keep focusing on decreasing stigma as well. We must break through the barriers of shame to provide the best possible treatments first and the most effective assistance now.
We need to let people know that it is okay to come out of the shadows, that it is okay to ask for help, and that there is help available that’s right for them.
And I will continue to fight to increase access to that help. Are you with me?