Medford, Ore.– The opioid crisis is a serious issue across the country. Now Oregon is taking new measures to help find a solution.
“You realize that this problem is so big,” said Julia Pinsky, founder of Max’s Mission. “People don’t talk about it but it’s frightening.”
Pinsky knows the high cost of the opioid epidemic. Several years ago, she lost her son, Max, to opioid addiction. Since then she’s started Max’s Mission, an organization that works to inform people about the opioid crisis, ways to prevent drug abuse and help save lives.
She has even been to the state capital, where she met with politicians like Governor Kate Brown, to advocate for stronger legislation to help end the drug crisis.
“You know there are a lot of laws that have passed, to be honest, since Max died – since 2013, ” she said. “That really would have changed his own trajectory.”
Governor Brown is hoping to advance the cause.
“I am focused on moving forward on this substance abuse crisis that we have in Oregon and will be declaring it a public health crisis,” said Brown. “It is a call to action.”
House Bill 4143 was introduced in Salem last week and covers three major points.
The first would require all licensed opioid prescribers in the state to register with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This would help identify and prosecute illegal prescribers who are operating outside of the scope of their license. The registration would also help the state determine long-term health trends to build policy decisions upon.
The second, a Peer Recovery Mentor Pilot Program, would bring individuals, in recovery themselves, to help guide and mentor those who overdose back towards a road to recovery. Jackson County is one of the four counties nominated for the program but it won’t be officials until the bill is signed. The pilot program is expected to expand to whole state if reviews show it’s successful.
The third would require the Insurance Commissioner to examine a potential removal of barriers to accessing addiction treatment.
“Just recognizing it for what it is, it is not a criminal justice problem,” said Brown. “It is a public health problem. We need to eliminate the stigma from substance abuse.”
Oregon is considered one of the pilot states in the effort to fight the opioid crisis. In Jackson County, organizations and campaigns like Stay Safe Oregon have been heavily supported by Governor Brown.
“Work around preventing drug addiction is absolutely key,” she said. “[Opioids] impacting communities and families around the state. The work they’re doing to prevent people from getting addicted is really important.”
For Pinsky, the new effort is a sign of hope that more lives may be saved.
“We’re very excited,” she said. “Part of you thinks if only it had been so much sooner. A lot sooner. But it isn’t but at least people are on it, they’re not ignoring it.”
The house bill is currently in committee. Once it passes through, it will move to the House floor for a vote hopefully by next week, according to aides of Governor Brown.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.