Addiction as a public health crisis

Eve Costello, Klamath County District Attorney

Eve Costello, Klamath County District Attorney

Press release from Eve Costello, Klamath County District Attorney

On October 11th, 2019 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Room 214 of the Klamath County Building, the Klamath County District Attorney, Klamath Basin Behavioral Health, Oregon Recovers and all members of the Local Drug and Alcohol Policy Committee will present a Proclamation to the Board of County Commissioners that recognizes addiction as a public health crisis.

Oregon ranks 4th highest in addiction rates in the country[1], yet ranks 50th on providing access to treatment for these addictions.  More than 2100 people die annually due to untreated addictions -- with five Oregonians dying every day from alcohol-related causes[2] and one to two more dying each day from drug overdoses.[3]  The death rates are expected to continue to grow, resulting in an alarming 212% increase in alcohol deaths and 157% increase in drug-related deaths between 1999 to 2025[4].  These deaths create untold emotional, psychological and financial consequences for the family members and friends of these individuals.

Untreated addictions cost Oregon $5.9 billion in 2006[5] with evidence, as stated above, suggesting those costs are only increasing:  $4.15 billion in lost earnings, $813 million in health care, and $967 million in other costs from the criminal justice and social welfare systems. Alcohol dependence alone cost Oregon $3.2 billion in 2006, compared to only $3.95 million in earned tax revenue from the sale of alcohol.

Addiction has significant negative consequences for the health of our communities and suffers a stigma that deters individuals from coming forward.  Leaders in the community recognize it for the public health crisis it is and encourage folks to come forward and seek the support and treatment they need.  The Board of County Commissioners, the Klamath District Attorney’s office and other leaders recognize the need for financial support from the State and Federal government to enable them to adequately address the issue and protect and preserve the health of Klamath County citizens.

[1] 2016-2017 National survey on Drug Use and Health: Model-Based Prevalence Estimates, SAMHSA, 2018.

[2] Alcohol-Related Deaths by County, Oregon, 2013-2016, Oregon Health Authority, Apr.2018.

[3] National Center for Health Statistics Stats of the State of Oregon, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.

[4] Pain in the Nation: the Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Crises and the Need for a National Strategy, Trust for America’s Health and Well Being, Nov. 2017.

[5] The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Oregon in 2006, ECONorthwest, 2008.