Even as the nation experiences one of its biggest drug crises and the states struggle to reduce the treatment gap, Oregon has taken a landmark measure and become the first U.S. state to decriminalize hard drugs. About 58.5% of voters voted in favor of decriminalization and created history in November’s general election. According to measure 110, you will no longer be punished for possessing hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Following this day, if you’re caught possessing drugs, you won’t be imprisoned. Instead, you’ll be sent to a treatment facility and provided with the attention you require.

Although there are skeptics who don’t think this is something in the population’s best interest, it doesn’t change the fact that this was long overdue.

The positive impacts that are to follow measure 110 will be ones to look out for. Whether it’s changing the perception of addiction or offering tax benefits to Oregonians, here are some major impacts of Oregon measure 110 on addiction and recovery treatment.

Penalizing drug users and addicts isn’t the real solution

As the population of addicts and drug users continues to rise, it’s important to look at our options. For decades, we’ve been locking up people for possessing soft and hard drugs. Not only the users but also the police officers are tired of arresting people whose crime is a mental health disorder.

The biggest reason for the decriminalizing of possession of hard drugs, like with measure 110, is that the aforementioned method hasn’t been working. Criminalizing addicts hasn’t solved the problem till today.

People continue to take drugs for medical and recreational purposes and the number of cases of substance overdose is growing at the speed of light.

Additionally, the voters who favored decriminalization found that arresting isn’t constructive enough. The police aren’t trained to handle addiction cases. In fact, they don’t even have sufficient knowledge on how to deal with addicts.

Punishing addicts is short-sighted thinking. It doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. It only scratches the surface.

For example, the root cause of robbery is poverty. To actually eliminate thieves from society, it’s crucial to get to the bottom of the issue and offer education right from childhood, so they can have a level playing field when they’re ready for employment.

Similarly, the root causes of addiction could be anything from PTSD, childhood trauma, and poverty to depression, anxiety, and genetics.

So, the need of the hour isn’t imprisonment but offering support to those deprived of proper healthcare, which measure 110 allows, and that  brings us to our next impact.

Accessible treatment and recovery options

In cases of other crimes such as murder and robbery, people are first sent to correction homes or rehabs if they’re minors. This allows them to enjoy a second chance at leading a better, lawful life. All because they didn’t know any better. But what if addicts were given the same opportunity?

The voters felt that comparing possession of drugs to other heinous crimes is a tad unfair. The judicial system needs to be amended.

Before criminal justice or court-intervention happens, it’s important to make treatment accessible. The former options should be treated as the last resort.

And many addicts would like to get help but it’s really inaccessible. From being incredibly expensive to not having addiction centers that are good enough, people avoid recovery for numerous reasons.

If possession of drugs is decriminalized, addicts will be able to openly discuss their problems and get help before it’s too late.

As a result, the healthcare system will prioritize addiction treatment as much as other illnesses and offer more affordable plans, leading to better recovery rates.

Decriminalization of drugs will also help eliminate the stigma around addiction, which will allow people to get educated on the subject as well as increase empathy among those around them.

Treatment is cheaper than prison

Advocate for measure 110 and Medford nurse practitioner, Lauri Hoagland says that offering healthcare is cheaper than incarceration. But don’t just take her word for it.

Oregonians pay $44,021 per inmate every year. That’s a significant chunk from every taxpayer’s money and a figure that’s the total annual income of countless households.

On the other hand, the treatment for addiction can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $25,000 depending on the treatment option you opt for. So, decriminalizing drugs is not only socially right but it also makes absolute financial sense.

Because when 13.7 million people are food insecure, does it make sense to spend so much money on locking up people whose crime is now equal to hoarding unpaid parking tickets?

Not really.

Having measure 110 also means that the taxpayers’ money will now be put to better use, perhaps to build a better ecosystem of facilities for every citizen.

In any case, it’s good news for not only the addicts but every resident of Oregon.

Why should you celebrate measure 110? 

There’s no doubt that measure 110 is a victory for human rights for two reasons.

Firstly, even the police officers agree that measure 110 will make it more difficult to incarcerate Black and indigenous people of Oregon. It will reduce the number of arrests of Black and indigenous Oregonians and help maintain racial equity.

As a result, it will help eliminate the racial disparity among the masses and offer a more comfortable living environment for everyone.

Secondly, measure 110 has an immense potential to be more constructive than destructive. Historically, only those civilizations flourish whose primary objective is to successfully meet the four basic needs of food, shelter, education, and healthcare.

For years, we’ve been excluding addicts from accessing good healthcare. Since measure 110 aims to make finding help with addiction easier, it will directly cater to the latter two needs of the population and make U.S. healthcare more inclusive.

Finally, the regulation of drugs may also help reduce cases of addiction and result in the qualitative growth of the population.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.

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