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Vote yes on Measure 110 because we need a more humane, equitable and effective approach to drug addiction

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Janie GullicksonOur current system for treating drug addiction is failing Oregonians. I know this firsthand. I used to be addicted to drugs. I lived on the streets, unable to care for myself. I sought treatment multiple times but couldn't get it. ­­

Instead, I got arrested, again and again. Sometimes my drug use landed me in the emergency room. But when I got out of jail or the ER, I didn't get much help, and I often didn't have anywhere to go.

So, the cycle continued—for 22 years.

Eventually I got lucky because some people went out of their way to help me. I got the treatment and recovery support I needed. But it took far too long. Through this experience, I learned a lot about how Oregon currently addresses drugs and addiction. This is what I am sure of: What we're doing right now doesn't work.

My story is far from unique.

Healthcare professionals have long agreed that addiction is a health issue. But in Oregon—where one in 10 Oregonians suffer from addiction—we treat it as a crime rather than a health crisis. Instead of saving lives by providing treatment and recovery services, our current approach to drug addiction relies on arresting people, and giving them criminal records that make it harder for them to recover and secure jobs, housing, professional licenses, student loans and more. We need a more humane, equitable and effective approach to drug addiction. People with addiction need treatment, not punishment. That is why I am voting yes on Measure 110.

Oregon authorities still arrest nearly 9,000 people a year for simple drug possession, punishing them instead of offering drug treatment. Many others struggling with addiction don't seek treatment for fear of being arrested. Using funds from Oregon's existing marijuana tax, Measure 110 will make vital drug treatment and recovery support services available in every county throughout Oregon. Anyone who wants help will be able to get it, not just those who live in the right city or have the money or right insurance plan.

Because it will shift us from punishing drug addiction to using a health-based, treatment-first approach, Measure 110 has received more than 125 endorsements from organizations across the state, including the American College of Physicians, the Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon School Psychologists' Association, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Crime Victims' Rights Alliance, and the Academy of Family Physicians.

Janie Gullickson is the executive director of Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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