Ballot Measures with Ramifications for Addiction Medicine Pass Around the Country

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As the presidential race continues to be fought and votes continue to be tallied, we have seen multiple ballot measures around the country successfully pass that have ramifications for the addiction medicine field. I will start today with Oregon, as two ballot measures have passed in that state with 82% of votes tallied. I often write on behalf of Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery in Panama City, which is easily one of the best drug rehab centers in Florida or anywhere else, and some of these ballot measures could have major impacts on treatment providers.

The first ballot measure is Oregon Measure 109, which legalizes Psilocybin. That measure will have a very small footprint on addiction medicine, as psilocybin is not a common drug of choice for people with substance use disorder who seek treatment. It is a step in the right direction, however, as any decriminalization of drugs is a step in the right direction for those who want to fight addiction. I will explain the reasons for this when I talk about the next ballot measure in Oregon. Oregon measure 110 was called “Addiction Recovery Centers.” It seems to have been crafted by professionals in addiction medicine, as it is a huge step towards a disease and treatment model of addiction, rather than the failed criminalization and demonization model. In 2020, the reasons for this are very simple to explain. Starting several decades ago, and ramping up in the mid-1990s, doctors around the country began to prescribe opiate pain killers at unprecedented rates. We know from many research studies that many people who are prescribed opiates by a doctor even one time will develop a substance use disorder. The people mainly at risk of becoming addicted are people with a family history of a substance use disorder, such as an alcoholic parent or grandparent, and people who experience some form of psychological trauma during childhood or adulthood. Both of those groups are very large and include millions of Americans. When a doctor prescribes someone a powerful pain killer like Oxycontin, which happened millions of times over since the 1990s, many people will develop Opioid Use Disorder or Substance Use Disorders in general, and many of those doctors, starting roughly 15 years ago, started to be pressured to end the practice of prescribing large amounts of opioids for acute and chronic pain. 

Many people, the vast majority of people, got their first opioid drug of abuse from a doctor, and those people were largely hung out to dry by doctors and the government, much of the time without viable treatment options readily available to them at the time. I mentioned yesterday that from 2003 to 2020 we have largely the same treatment capacity in this country, but with millions of more people with substance use disorder requiring serious medical treatment. So, when a person who has substance use disorder is arrested or put in jail, lives can be ruined because our society has caused a problem and failed to address it properly. Ballot measure 110 is similar to what countries like Canada have tried to do on drug treatment, but hopefully having a state in this country go this far to help people with addiction diseases will be a harbinger of more similar actions and ballot measures in other states. There are ballot measures around the country that could have real effects in the ways that the best drug rehabs operate, including the best drug rehabs and treatment facilities in states like Florida and Alabama, where I often concentrate my research. 

Here are the current results of these measures, already called by the Associated Press:

Oregon Measure 109. Legalize Psilocybin

55.8% Yes · 82% reporting

Oregon Measure 110. Addiction Recovery Centers

58.8% Yes · 82% reporting

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)

 

References

Associated Press election results

CALCATERRA, S. L. et al. Methadone Matters: What the United States Can Learn from the Global Effort to Treat Opioid Addiction. Journal of general internal medicine, [s. l.], v. 34, n. 6, p. 1039–1042, 2019. DOI 10.1007/s11606-018-4801-3. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mnh&AN=30729416&authtype=geo&geocustid=s8475741&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Acesso em: 4 nov. 2020.