September 6, 2019 10:45 a.m.
Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have announced that more than $7.8 million in federal grants will support efforts to treat and prevent opioid addiction.
A release from the Senators said that addiction is one of the state’s most pressing issues as communities across the state face an increase in opioid-related deaths.
Merkley said he has heard “gut wrenching stories from Oregonians who have lost loved ones after a prescription for an injury or treatment turned into an addiction”. He said the opioid crisis will require a multi-pronged approach. In addition to introducing the Opioid Treatment Surge Act, which Merkley said will require drug companies to pay for a dramatic increase in treatment, he has used his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fight for these grant resources.
Wyden said the grants will complement the bipartisan opioids legislation he worked on as the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee in response to what he heard from Oregonians. He said all the steps are needed urgently to reverse the human cost of opioid abuse that surfaces “far too often” in Oregon homes and neighborhoods.
The release said in 2017, 1.7 million Americans experienced a substance use disorder stemming from opioid prescription drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 21 to 29 percent of patients who are on prescribed opioids for chronic pain, misuse them.
The funds from the U.S. Health and Human Services State Opioid Response Grants will support prevention treatment and recovery services in Oregon, as part of $1.8 billion distributed nationwide to address the opioid epidemic.