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Katrina Dimick: 'My brother's story is just one of many in Oregon, where our access to treatment is ranked nearly last in the nation'

Every day in Oregon at least one person dies of an overdose; on March 6, 2018, one of those individuals was my brother.

My brother attempted in-patient recovery once, after cutting cold turkey landed him at urgent care. He was told he needed professional help to safely wean off the drugs; even with insurance there were no program openings nearby. He was sent home with instructions to start using drugs again at smaller doses until an opening arose. My mother spent the afternoon making calls, finding a Portland facility with an upcoming opening. My brother was lucky to have insurance and a mother who advocated for him. After treatment he looked for a group-therapy option; all he found had a religious element, which didn't suit him. With no follow-ups, he was left with a folder of papers to reference and us. We as a family were not capable of adequately helping him. A year later, he relapsed, afraid of the costs left uncovered by insurance he periodically attempted to detox on his own, refusing professional help, even while saying how helpful that experience had been. Four years later he died on my couch.

My brother's story is just one of many in Oregon, where our access to treatment is ranked nearly last in the nation. Measure 110 allows anyone in Oregon who wants treatment to receive it and simultaneously decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of drugs. Breaking down the barriers created by the cost of treatment and fear of criminalization would be a wonderful start in meaningfully combatting drug addiction in our communities.

We must change the narrative of drug addiction to make it become a public health issue. Please join me in voting yes on Measure 110.

Katrina Dimick is a resident of Milwaukie.

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