Measure 110, also known as the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, has been quite controversial among Oregonians.
While some studies are showing the measure’s positive effects across the state, concerns arise regarding Oregon’s increased fentanyl crisis. Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-4, Springfield and Eugene) said Measure 110 and the fentanyl crisis are two separate issues, though.
“If you find yourself thinking that Measure 110 is the source of the problem, that’s incorrect,” Prozanski said at the Springfield City Club meeting on Sept. 21. “The problem is the fentanyl, and we know that again throughout the country as to what we need to be working on to deal with this crisis. It’s gonna be fentanyl today. Who knows when it might be a new substance tomorrow, what meth was before (fentanyl), so we need to have these infrastructures in place.”
Families Against Fentanyl (FAF)’s new statistics show Oregon has seen the largest increase in fentanyl deaths in the last year at 67%, compared to the national average of 5%; from April 2022-April 2023, Oregon had 1,020 deaths from fentanyl.
“This is alarming news, and it should serve as a wake-up call to our leaders in Washington that more must be done – fast,” said FAF founder Jim Rauh, who lost his son to illicit fentanyl poisoning in 2015.
Rep. Charlie Conrad (D-12, Eastern Lane County) said Oregon has some of the highest addiction rates in the country, yet the lowest accessibility to treatment, which is why continued funding for Measure 110 could be beneficial.
“We need to step up and figure out: How are we going to fund addiction services on the back end so – when somebody is ready to have that, and they’ve had that epiphany, or when they have that incentive to go seek treatment – we’ve got some place for them to go so we can actually help them out and not put them on a six month waiting list that doesn’t do anybody any good,” Conrad said at the City Club meeting.
Prozanski agreed with Conrad that there must be facilities to check people in immediately for Measure 110 to work.
“And as Charlie says, one of the things that we really, really are missing is the opportunity to take someone off the street and get them into a detox center where they can actually start being processed in their own mind and getting out,” Prozanski said.
Prozanski connected the fentanyl crisis to people’s lack of support for Measure 110. Although he didn’t vote to pass this measure, Prozanski said he understands the importance of upholding the measure as he is on the senate judiciary committee, which was recently renamed to be the senate judiciary and implementation of Measure 110 committee.
With about 58% of Oregon voters in favor, Measure 110 passed back in November 2020 and became effective Dec. 4, 2020. SB 755, which amended the act and made it more feasible to implement with the creation of behavioral health resource networks (BHRNs), then passed in July 2021.
OHA has released three reports so far regarding Measure 110’s implementation: quarter 1 (Q1) report for July 1, 2022-Sept. 30, 2022; Q2 report for Oct. 1, 2022-Dec. 31, 2022; Q3 report for Jan. 1-March 31.
The latest OHA report mentioned that at a state level:
There was the largest percentage of client gains in supported employment and housing services at 365% and 190%, respectively.
More than 7,000 people received substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, a 104% increase over the three quarters.
There were more than 47,000 service encounters for people seeking substance use treatment, a 134% increase over all three quarters.
“It’s encouraging to see the reported client gains by Measure 110 service providers. It’s another sign that the statewide networks are taking hold and more people are getting treatment along with critically needed services and support,” said Ebony Clarke, OHA Behavioral Health Director.
At a local level, it said:
• There was a 27% increase in the number of clients obtaining SUD treatment.
• Screening had a 66% increase, but assessments have had a 26% decrease.
• Client gains in housing services and supported employment remain low, at 206 people and 61 people in total from July 1, 2022-March 31.
Prozanski said the State of Oregon has started looking for solutions to its drug epidemic from other states and countries, mentioning Arizona, Colorado, and Portugal.
Arizona’s solution was to make it legal to take someone off the street for 72 hours without violating their due process, which would cause the person to go through withdrawals.
“What they have found is that they say, ‘You can walk out the door right now after 72 hours and go back to the streets and do whatever you want to do, or you could stay here, and we will help you through the process.’ There’s more people coming in through that process,” Prozanski said.
Colorado’s solution was to save people who had overdosed with Narcan.
“What they do at that point– I mean, this is at the point where they’re still in the emergency room, and they’re saying, ‘You could be dead right now because of this overdose if it wasn’t for Narcan. What do you think about that? Wouldn’t you like to get help?’” Prozanski said. “And of course, that’s their weak point. That is where they are more upset with their mind. ‘Yeah, I want this help.’”
As far as Portugal goes, Prozanski said, “A large number of individuals will be going over to Portugal – which dubbed the legalization of hard narcotics back in 2001, so they’ve had 22 years of experience – to get some insight of stuff that we may learn from there that could be used utilizing to get more of our resources into places where they are needed immediately.”
Conrad admitted that Measure 110 and the fentanyl crisis is going to be “an ongoing discussion for a while. I mean, it’s in the paper just about every day in some shape or another.”