New study sheds light on drug use in Oregon

The national study shows high rates of combined opioid and methamphetamine use in patients seeking treatment for a substance-use disorder in Oregon.

Posted: Apr 18, 2019 7:14 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A new study is shedding light on drug use in Oregon.

The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland released a report this week, funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, showing high rates of combined opioid and methamphetamine use in patients seeking treatment for a substance-use disorder in Oregon.

The data for this national study was collected from patients undergoing treatment at Serenity Lane in Coburg. 

Dr. Eric Geisler, medical director at Serenity Lane, said this study provides some crucial insight.

The report suggests the possibility that meth is being intentionally used with opioids to produce a synergistic high or to balance the effects of the two drugs.

Geisler said based on his work with patients, the combined use of the two drugs is a vicious cycle. He said many patients use heroin, an opioid, to offset side effects from meth and then use meth to help with heroin withdrawal.

He said they were surprised by these results but said this insight will help substance abuse centers across the U.S. provide better treatment.

"The more we know about how the patients are using the drugs, the more we can help them to detox and then to stay off of them," Geisler said.

A study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which was released last month, said the opioid crisis is taking a chunk of money out of the government's wallet. 

The results show between 2000 and 2016, opioid misuse cost state governments $11.8 billion in lost tax revenue. That breaks down to $1.7 billion in sales tax and $10.1 billion in income tax. The study also shows that the federal government lost $26 billion in income tax revenue.

Geisler said there's also a huge cost to the community -- both criminally and medically -- so the more they know the better.

The state government is addressing the opioid crisis this week too. Thursday, the Oregon Senate voted unanimously to remove several barriers standing between those addicted to opioids and the medicines they need to recover. Senate Bill 910 will now go before the House for a vote.

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