Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED


Oregon Recovers Rally / ADPC EO Signing
February 13, 2018

Hello, I’m Governor Kate Brown.

I am truly honored to be here today, to meet with those of you in recovery, and those that have felt the impacts of addiction.

To hear your stories first hand is so moving. Your experiences make the work we are doing much more urgent.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for speaking out.

There are too many of these stories across Oregon and America. Stories of stress. Of struggle. Of loss. And of success. Once you have been touched by addiction, either personally or through a loved one, the fear of its reach never, ever goes away.

The ripple effects of addiction can be both deep and immediate, depriving children of their parents, or parents of their children.

And we all suffer when members of our families, our friends, and our communities are subject to this all-too-prevalent, yet treatable, illness.

Every year in Oregon, over 1100 individuals die of drug overdoses. Almost sixty percent of children in foster care have at least one parent with a substance abuse disorder. More than half of the youth in our juvenile justice system enter with addiction issues or a dual diagnosis.

This is unacceptable.

That’s why I am declaring substance abuse to be a public health crisis in Oregon.

Our federal government recently declared a public health emergency around the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on treatment, they are focusing on punishment. 

That leaves us, the states, to right the wrongs of a war on drugs that has done nothing to address public health issues while our prisons filled to capacity. We must break through the barriers of shame and stigma to provide the best treatments possible first and the most effective assistance now.

Addiction is blind to circumstance, but our struggling communities are the hardest hit. Our justice system should not be a safety net for those struggling with substance abuse.

That’s why, I am announcing an executive order directing the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to create a statewide strategic plan to focus our state’s addiction efforts around prevention, around treatment, and around recovery. A plan that weaves in the perspectives of those who see it on the frontlines—our medical providers, our legal counsel, our educators, and our caseworkers. A plan that makes sure we are opening up access to treatment, and providing treatments that are not focused on cost-efficiency first, but effectiveness.

Because one more life lost is hundreds of lives altered.

Because everyone deserves access to needed substance abuse treatment.

Because every Oregonian deserves to live a healthy, productive life.

Thank you.