May 6th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

AG Kroger Calls for Drug-Treatment Overhaul

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Citing "significant gaps in coverage" and a lack of funding, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger today called for an overhaul the state's drug and alcohol treatment programs.

The state Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, which Kroger chairs, released a report (PDF) urging the creation of a new state Director of Alcohol and Drug Policy to oversee revamping a "fragmented" system.

Last year, we reported on how Multnomah County's fragile drug-treatment system faced doomsday as a result of looming state budget cuts. That fate was averted only after the Legislature came through with last-minute funding to maintain most programs.

Here's this morning's news release from the AG's office:
Attorney General John Kroger, chair of Oregon's Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, today released the commission's first report calling for significant improvements in the state's alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

“Alcohol and drug abuse cost our state $5.4 billion every year in health care costs, crime, and lost economic productivity,” said Attorney General Kroger. “Improving our treatment and prevention programs will reduce crime, improve public health, and cut the cost of government programs.”

The report finds that Oregon's current system is fragmented, with significant gaps in coverage, lack of adequate funding, inconsistent reliance on best available science, and outdated systems to collect data and ensure accountability. The report calls for the creation of a new state Director of Alcohol and Drug Policy to set priorities and coordinate state agency budgets. The report also calls for creation of a new state prevention program based on best available science to help keep children away from drugs, a new unified data collection and accountability system to make certain that tax dollars are being spent effectively, and a major overhaul in the delivery of alcohol and drug treatment programs.

“Alcohol and drug abuse have been given neither sufficient weight, nor prominence, in the formulation of policy,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Director of the Department of Human Services. “They are treated as ancillary issues when in fact they are primary, not secondary, health care and social concerns.”

“Almost 70 percent of the inmates in the Oregon Corrections system have issues with alcohol and drugs,” said Max Williams, Director of the Department of Corrections. “We need to shine a spotlight on the havoc that is wreaked by untreated addictions.”

The recommendations will require approval by the 2011 Legislature. In the interim, the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission will continue to flesh out the proposals and consider realistic long-term funding options in light of Oregon's current budget situation.

The Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission was created by the legislature in 2009 in order to develop proposals for the overhaul and reform of substance abuse and prevention programs in Oregon.
 
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