Oregon state and tribes to receive $23M in grants to combat opioid crisis

Oregon state and tribes to receive $23M in grants to combat opioid crisis

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Tuesday announced nearly $23 million in grants to the Oregon Health Authority and Tribes based in the state to combat the opioid crisis.

"I've heard heart-wrenching stories from Oregonians who have lost loved ones after a prescription for an injury or treatment turned into an addiction," Merkley said in a statement. "The impact of this crisis across communities is immeasurable, but these funds will have a real impact on our continued fight to beat this epidemic. I won't stop working to deliver resources, solutions, and support to address the needs of those suffering and their communities."

In the year ending April 2022, 1,114 Oregonians died of a drug overdose, an 18% increase over the previous year and double the number who died in car crashes. Oregon has the highest rate of past-year drug use in the U.S. and has for years ranked at or near the bottom of states for access to treatment.

As far as the Department of Human Services grants the two senators announced, OHA will receive $15.4 million, followed by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, at $6.7 million. Other recipients are the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, at $498,228, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, at $250,000.

The funds are the latest flowing into addiction and recovery services in Oregon. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in July that Oregon will receive $25 million this year from a nationwide settlement with three large opioid distributors, with the potential for $45 million more from a separate settlement with Johnson & Johnson and $95 million from Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin.

Then there's Measure 110 funds, which are finally being released to the newly created Behavioral Health Resource Networks spread throughout the state. All told, $302 million is available through the measure, which his funded by marijuana taxes, in the current biennium for harm reduction, peer support, housing, low-barrier substance use treatment and case management.

In addition, the Oregon Legislature also approved $1.35 billion in this biennium to transform the behavioral health system.