Governor Brown’s five strategy Substance Use Policy Agenda

On October 15th, Oregon Governor Kate Brown released her “Substance use Policy Agenda: Creating Change through Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery” aimed at improving the health of Oregonians who deal with substance use. Brown’s goal, outlined in the policy agenda, is to become a “model state” and national leader for prevention, treatment, and recovery.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the misuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs costs $740 billion nationally in crime and health care costs. The 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about 395,000 people in Oregon struggle with substance use disorder (SUD). The Child Welfare Capacity Project discovered that almost 75% of Oregon children in foster care have parents with SUD. Gov. Brown believes that SUD is costly and has negative impacts on families.

In the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Brown assembled the Opioid Epidemic Task Force (OETF). Their goal is to create policy changes to fight the opioid epidemic and consists of medical experts, treatment specialists, and state regulators. On March 27th, 2018, Gov. Brown signed Executive Order 18-01 which declares that alcohol and substance addiction are a health crisis in Oregon. The order states that the Oregon Health Authority, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Corrections is to work with the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission (ADPC) to create a statewide addiction, prevention, treatment, and recovery plan.

Gov. Brown has created five strategies to accomplish her goal. They are to:

  1. Reduce substance use disorder for 75,000 Oregonians in five years through completion and implementation of a statewide assessment and plan

With Executive Order 18-01, the goal is to decrease SUD from 9.6 percent to 6.8 percent and increase the recovery rate by 25 percent over the next 5 years. Gov. Brown is setting out to address the stigma of addiction by building workplace programs that motivate hiring people who are in recovery.

  1. Improve standards of care and access to treatment for Oregonians with substance use disorder, with an emphasis on outcomes and transparency

Gov. Brown intends to propose to the legislature that SUD should be seen as a chronic disease. Brown wants to have CCO contracts include improving access to mental health and addiction services, as well as enlarging programs for better health results and decreasing long-term costs.

“As a nation, we need to move in a direction where we view SUD not as the fault of the patient, but as a chronic disease like hypertension or diabetes, supported by shifts in policy designed to change the paradigm in Oregon,” – Gov. Brown.

  1. Fix treatment structures and certification standards

Brown wants to make more treatment options and increase the access to those treatments to better understand the different needs of each person. Rural Oregon is affected with a lack of treatment and recovery services, so Brown wants to build solutions for these resources, such as telehealth for connecting care providers and treatment.

  1. Make key investments in services that support individuals in recovery

Brown recognizes the diversity of each families’ needs through multi-generational treatment and the need for housing and employment to assist the recovery process. In order to do this, Brown wants to construct homes for over 4,000 Oregon families, as well as create job training possibilities and incentivizing programs for employers. Lastly, Brown is pushing for permanent supportive housing (PSH) in order to house the chronically homeless.

  1. Continue to lead in the fight against the opioid epidemic

Overall, Brown intends to work closely with the OETF to find ways to combat SUD through policies and resource availability. The OETF created HB 4143 which consists of a prescription drug monitoring program, an overdose intervention pilot program in particular Oregon counties, and a report on barriers to treatment access. Brown aims to continue to shape change upon the HB 4143 and is taking charge to save more lives through lower the cost of medication by grant funding and buying medication in larger quantities with other states.

“By no means is our work complete. Lives are being tragically lost every day, and every life matters,” – Gov. Brown.