Moving Forward on the Substance Abuse Crisis in Oregon


Julia Pinsky knows all too well the high cost of the opioid crisis.

Julia Pinsky, with her son, Max.

Four years ago, she lost her son, Max, to an overdose. Within a few months of his death, three other young men lost their lives in the same way due to substance abuse in her area of Southern Oregon.

“As parents, we want to spare others this terrible loss. So many families in our community here in the Rogue Valley have been effected by the opioid epidemic. Family, friends, neighbors and partners lives have been turned upside down,” said Pinsky.

Across Oregon, the opioid crisis is tearing families apart. Tackling this crisis demands a sense of urgency and will require all branches of government and state agencies working closely together with advocates and families to prevent Oregonians from becoming future victims of opioid misuse.

After signing a bill into law last Fall that gets opioid overdose medication into the hands of first responders, Governor Brown has now proposed legislation to better equip Oregon to respond to this epidemic.

“I am focused on moving forward on this substance abuse crisis that we have in Oregon and will be declaring it a public health crisis,” said Brown. “It is a call to action.”

House Bill 4143 will help Oregon respond through the following interventions:

  • Currently, not all licensed opioid prescribers in Oregon are required to register for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This makes it challenging to identify and prosecute illegal prescribers, or to determine long-term health trends that drive policy decisions. Based on recommendations by the Opioid Task Force, the Governor’s Office will take the first steps towards requiring registration for the program statewide.
  • Establish a Peer Recovery Mentor Pilot Program to dispatch peer recovery mentors to emergency departments upon an overdose episode. These mentors, most often individuals in recovery themselves, then serve as peer navigators to support those on the road to recovery. The pilot will be conducted in four counties, with the goal of expanding the program throughout the state.
  • Based on a recommendation by the Opioid Task Force, require the Insurance Commissioner to examine ways to remove barriers to accessing addiction treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment. A report of this work will be completed by July 2018, in an effort to drive Opioids Task Force legislation in 2019.

“We are very excited… people are on it, they’re not ignoring this crisis. A lot of work has been done since Max died in 2013 that really would have changed his own trajectory,” said Pinsky.

About Author

Natalie King serves on the Communications Team with the Office of Governor Kate Brown.

Comments are closed.