Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission discusses large gaps in state’s substance use services workforce


Shane Ersland


Oregon has many gaps in its substance use services workforce, and many people in need of treatment are not able to access it.

Annaliese Dolph, director of the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission (ADPC), discussed prevention and treatment services during a House Interim Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care meeting on Wednesday.

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The ADPC has 17 commissioners who are appointed by the governor. It develops comprehensive addiction, prevention, treatment, and recovery plans for the state.

Dolph discussed the Oregon Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Services Inventory & Gap Analysis, which was developed by Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University last year. It serves as a state inventory and gap analysis of service delivery resources available to address SUD prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.

The analysis provided many insights about services in the state. It shows a 49 percent gap in substance use services, large statewide gaps in equity, that people in need of treatment are not accessing it, and that transportation and technology are barriers to services.

“I think the gaps analysis is really important for Oregon as a state. We think we only have about 50 percent of the services we need, and that’s across the continuum. From prevention, to treatment, to recovery, to harm reduction, to youth services, (and) adult services we have huge gaps. So we need to recognize that and approach it in a really conscientious manner.”

— Dolph

The analysis compares the number of service providers recommended in different healthcare professional categories compared to the actual number of providers in the state. It shows:

  • A need for 968 certified prevention specialists. The state only has 62, leaving a gap of 906 specialists.
  • A need for 4,902 certified alcohol and drug counselors (CADCs). The state only has 2,884, leaving a gap of 2,018 counselors. 
  • A need for 2,177 certified behavioral health peer support specialists. The state only has 1,565, leaving a gap of 612 specialists.
  • A need for 20,493 qualified mental health associates. The state only has 2,776, leaving a gap of 17,717 associates.
  • A need for 12,619 qualified mental health professionals. The state only has 879, leaving a gap of 11,740 professionals.
  • A need for 3,857 prescribers with a buprenorphine waiver. The state only has 1,902, leaving a gap of 1,955 prescribers. 

However, Dolph said the state has made progress in supplementing parts of its workforce since the analysis was published.

“We have really increased (our) peer support specialists, certified recovery mentors, and CADCs. We have more programs that are employing them, so we know we’ve made progress there.”

— Dolph

The analysis also showed estimated gaps for SUD treatment facilities. It showed:

  • A need for 586 outpatient facilities. The state only has 383, leaving a gap of 203 facilities.
  • A need for 470 inpatient facilities. The state only has 187, leaving a gap of 283 facilities.
  • A need for 103 residential detox facilities. The state only has 75, leaving a gap of 28 facilities.
  • A need for 7,078 recovery residences (beds). The state only has 3,219, leaving a gap of 3,859 residences.
  • A need for 145 recovery community centers. The state only has eight, leaving a gap of 137 centers.

“There are people in need of treatment who are not accessing it,” Dolph said. “Transportation and technology are barriers here in Oregon.”

The ADPC plans to help address these gaps through the recommendation of priorities for immediate funding to lawmakers, and implementation efforts that will ensure rapid access to treatment and services, Dolph said.

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