Jefferson Public Radio ijpr.org 06 Aug, 2022 19:00 am

Oregon’s meth problem: More money than leadership

Oregon’s meth problem: More money than leadership
Despite a windfall of new funding that could combat Oregon’s meth-fueled behavioral health crisis, leaders have no plan and risk leaving promising approaches on the shelf.

Editor’s note:  This is Part 2 of a two-part series about how — despite a windfall of new funding — the state has no plan to address the “new meth” that is overwhelming behavioral health providers and inflaming ongoing crises across the state.” But despite widespread awareness among behavioral health providers and policy makers, there’s been little public recognition of the outsized role meth is playing in problems plaguing Oregon’s hospitals, jails, mental health system and homeless communities.Top state officials interviewed for this article conceded that meth and its effects on the behavioral health system have not received enough attention, despite lawmakers’ approval of significant new spending.“We’ve been fortunate in having a billion dollars in new investments in the behavioral health system, but that’s a lot to implement,” said the state’s behavioral health director, Steve Allen.

“There is no plan at all, there is no coordination,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran, an emergency room doctor who has long called for behavioral health reforms.But the separation between addiction treatment and mental health services has been baked into funding, training, staff credentialing, licensing certification and “the hearts and minds” of service providers over many years, Allen, the state’s director of behavioral health, said.

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