DEALING WITH ADDICTION
Kudos to Richard Kidd for writing such a robust overview of opiate addiction [3/28], and the challenges we face in Lane County. Living through the hell of addiction lends further strength to your work. Thank you for your candor and your continued strength.
You raise several points about the problems that opiate addicts face when encountering the health care system — truths that are specific to Lane County and are probably generalizable to U.S. health care. While I cannot comment on the impersonal feel of institutional rules that govern a methadone program, or the frustrations of being an opiate addict with legitimate pain, I do hope to offer you some awareness of the efforts that are afoot in our community.
You cite Dr. Jane Ballantyne, suggesting that “medical professionals are incapable of addressing, much less accepting responsibility for, the mess they’ve made.” That may be true in many communities, but in Lane County we are grabbing the bull by the horns.
In anticipation of the Affordable Care Act, the Oregon Health Plan is undergoing massive transformations. The new model for the state Medicaid program, called the Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) system, offers an unparalleled opportunity for us to rethink how health care is delivered in our county. Clinicians from across the spectrum are working very hard on the interconnected problems of opiate addiction and chronic pain.
Hosted by Trillium (Lane County’s CCO), clinicians from primary care, pain medicine, addiction medicine, psychotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, social work, naturopathic medicine, physical therapy and other disciplines have created a Chronic Pain Management workgroup. We are working to create guidelines to help minimize opiate prescriptions, evaluate individuals at risk for addiction and increase access to treatment for people struggling with opiate addiction.
We have representatives from PeaceHealth, Lane County Community Health, the Center for Family Development, LCC, Trillium and others, along with small and individual practices. Dr. Douglas Bovee chairs the subgroup on addiction services and leads the charge to train a new generation of doctors in prescribing Suboxone. We meet several times a month to talk about many of the problems you raise in your article.
We will be developing education programs not only for physicians and other clinicians, but also for patients struggling with chronic pain and/or addiction. Soon we will be seeking community involvement in creating these educational groups.
Opiates are a big problem in Lane County. Let’s build a 21st century that is bright, despite the Northwestern gloom.
Bill Walter, N.D., Chair, Chronic Pain Management Workgroup, Eugene
A DAILY CHOICE
I am writing in response to the article March 28, “Getting’ Clean in Eugene,” by Richard Kidd.
While the article brought up some great points about what destruction addiction can have on a person, Mr. Kidd seemed mad at himself and at the struggle he went through to get clean and sober. If you have ever experienced addiction you know that this is no easy task. It takes great dedication to often put even a few days of abstinence together early on.
I am an addict in recovery myself. I am also a patient at the Lane County Methadone Treatment Program with two years clean. Twenty-six months ago, when I started, it was a yearlong wait. Today they are full staffed. If you can commit to calling in each Friday, your assessment could be as early as in four months. The information that Mr. Kidd spoke of was not his own experience with a clinic. It was second-hand information, told to him by a woman who called herself “Sybil.” She also did not express which of the two clinics she was receiving treatment through. Her story was mostly based on the hoops that she had to jump through. It has been my experience at both of the clinics that if you stay clean, are on time and do the suggested counseling you will get your methadone.
Staying clean is a choice that an addict has to make daily. Let’s show some strength and hope with the experience.
Sheila Wolfe, Springfield
Thank you EW for pointing out in two recent Slant columns [3/21, 3/28] that Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart may be booted out in the next election. I hope so. It is outrageous that he has allowed, by doing nothing, the mining operation at Parvin Butte in the Dexter area which is in his district. EW has featured several articles about the loss of quality of life and property value for nearby residents as well as the ecological destruction caused by this money-maker for three of the commissioner’s business friends.
It may not be so well known that the Lane County Farmers Market is also in commissioner Stewart’s district. EW featured the Farmers Market recently (March 14), focusing on how long the market has been trying to find more room to grow. Here too Faye Stewart has been utterly unhelpful; he came to a meeting once, but he has done nothing.
Yes, it is high time to replace Stewart with a county commissioner who will serve the constituents and the environment of his or her district.
Lotte Streisinger , Eugene
AXE TO GRIND?
I have a question for those city councilors and citizens of Eugene who actively oppose the fee to save services: If the measure is defeated, and services ranging from the Looking Glass Station 7 youth shelter to CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets) to the Buckley Sobering and Detoxification Center to Fire Station #2 to Sheldon Pool, etc., are either reduced or eliminated altogether, will you be doing anything to help preserve these services and support the people who benefit from them?
Do you realize the suffering this will cause many in our community; not only the homeless, impoverished, mentally ill and alcohol/drug addicted, but also the countless people who can look forward to slower response times for 911 services and longer waiting periods in the emergency room? What about the people who may get no assistance at all for their medical or mental health problems due to the absence or limited availability of programs such as Buckley or CAHOOTS?
Do you really believe in what you’re doing, or do you merely have an axe to grind with the city government?
Becky Hoffman, Eugene
TONY HAS ISSUES
Tony Corcoran (4/4), a liberal, describes me as a “single-issue, anti-annexation, Libertarian conspiratorialist wackjob.” I, a conservative, describe Tony as a former legislator with whom I usually disagree on the issues.
Jerry Ritter, Springfield
OPEN LETTER TO THE IRS
I would love to pay all the taxes I owe every year. I wouldn’t mind if my tax bill was even higher. I’d like our country to provide a free and appropriate education to all young people between the ages of 3 and 25, including a bachelor’s degree or other post secondary education. We could provide food, a place to live and free health care to all who need it. All who need free drug, alcohol, gambling and sex addiction treatment could have it provided for them. Our land, water and air could be cleaned up and protected. Global warming could be reversed and alternative energy provided. All people living in this county could be treated with respect and granted the same freedom.
Instead of programs that affirm life, over half our taxes are going towards killing people in wars. Our taxes are breeding ill will through this country and the world. We have developed a huge debt due to funding these wars. I have redirected the $282 I owe into life-affirming programs here in Oregon. I will be giving money to Habitat for Humanity, Beyond Toxics, Planned Parenthood, Nature Conservancy, FOOD for Lane County and the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Council.
I believe if everyone who was against war would stop paying for it by resisting some of their tax dollars it would send a strong statement to the president and our government. Please consider joining me.
Susan P. Barnhart, Eugene
DO THE RIGHT THING
We as a community need to vote yes on the proposed city fee, Measure 20-211. This will at least maintain our current level of services for our residents. We are a caring city and I have been proud to see our city through the years do the right thing. We need to pass this measure to continue our support of our library, fire fighters, pools, parks and help for the homeless.
This measure is a way to cover the city’s budget shortfall caused by lesser revenues from property taxes due to the economy. Opponents have objected to it being a flat tax without mentioning that the council is committed to providing relief to our low-income families by waiving the fee and/or reducing the fee. It should be clear also that the council is not expecting to need the full $10 a month fee for the first year. The whole purpose is to allow for some stable funding for our future and to increase up to the $10 fee limit when needed.
We should approve this measure now. It was very disappointing to read the opponent’s misleading comments and throwing suspicion on our council members as to their motives. The council has come up with a good solution to avoid hardship and deserves our support.
Ruth Miller, Eugene
PAIN PILL PROBLEM
In response to your cover story March 28 on opiate abuse in the Northwest: The writer failed to mention an even bigger problem that individuals like myself have had to face — what addicts have done to the medical system in Lane County.
I am all for helping people with their addictions; but because of all these opiate addicts, people like myself who have real chronic pain issues have to deal with pain and suffering on a daily basis. Local doctors are so paranoid of losing their licenses to practice that they profile and judge everyone who requests help with pain. Innocent people like myself are now being treated like addicts. I have had chronic pain problems for over three years and I have been thrown into the pile of abusers and treated like an addict. I have been told that I am addicted to opiates and that I am an IV drug user and worse.
Our hospitals are flooded with people screaming and yelling about how they need opiates for whatever they have made up that day to try to get their fix. So people like myself suffer neglect. Sacred Heart’s ER even posts signs in the lobby saying they will only treat acute pain, not chronic pain. We are treated like crap and there’s nothing we can do to defend our real pain problems. So even though I would like to help these addicts I wish they would stop acting out almost anything to try and fool doctors into believing they have some type of pain problem.
So I say get over your addiction however you can and get a life because you are screwing up many other people’s lives with your sad excuse of addiction.
William Jones, Eugene
IN DEFENSE OF HANDY
The R-G editors would be well advised to take their own advice and try to see things from another person’s point of view. In my conversations with Rob Handy, who was my North Eugene commissioner and for whom I voted, I never detected the arrogant pride the editors imply. He listened while projecting interest, humility and strength of character. The editors see some sort of hubris-fueled tilting at windmills, while I see a man standing on principle.
Make no mistake, the original lawsuit brought by a former commissioner and a timber company was, from this voter’s point of view, an attempt to put the progressive commissioners in their place and by extension to remind those who voted for Rob Handy that their votes didn’t amount to a hill of beans when compared to the political power of a timber company.
Why didn’t the former commissioner offer her experience and wisdom over coffee to the newest sitting commissioner? She could have explained what she thought was wrong. Why go immediately to the hugely costly option of a lawsuit? How many of us have started a new job, no matter how skilled or talented we might be, who could not benefit from the advice of someone who previously held the job? And then to be sued instead — how does this lead to anything good?
When Handy was apportioned $20,000 of the legal fees, it seemed to me that everyone who had voted for Rob was being fined. The former commissioner had the deep pockets of a timber company to keep her skin out of the game. It seems only reasonable that the North Eugene constituents who voted for Handy, while none may have deep pockets, could at least combine their many pockets to stand up for the commissioner we elected. But then I suppose we as a nation have decided that corporations are exalted people and when a corporation chooses to put mere voters in their place it is the duty of the press to “see things” from the corporation’s point of view.
Ramona McCall, Eugene
KEEP SCHOOL OPTION
I agree that the open enrollment law should be allowed to run for the full five-year term, as outlined in the original law [see Slant 4/4]. While this law was passed in 2011, it didn’t take effect until September 2012, so the actual consequences are only being seen now.
Open enrollment has been the single bright spot in the funding of the Pleasant Hill School District since 1992, when Ballot Measure 5 took local control of school funds away from school districts. Our school enrollment went up 8 percent this year (after declining by 50 percent over the past 20 years). Because Measure 5 allocates funds to districts for each student they have, declining enrollment — caused by closed enrollment, an aging population, and restrictive land use laws — has devastated our school district. We had to close half the school buildings and crowd into the remaining two school buildings. Our forestry, culinary arts, business and drama programs are gone. Construction technology, music and foreign language programs have been gutted. School days have been cut.
I challenge any adult over the age of 32 to say that today’s Oregon public schools are better than they were in 1992. School choice is nice for parents, but the pertinent issue is that local districts have no control over their revenue, and so either Ballot Measure 5 needs to be repealed, or we need to start talking about a statewide sales tax that will be used to stop underfunding education in this state.
Dana O’Leary-Parrish, Pleasant Hill
WAR VS. HUMAN NEEDS
I do not owe federal taxes this year, but if I did, I would not voluntarily pay them, and would redirect the money to causes that promote peace and justice. As a symbolic protest to our federal priorities, I plan to donate to a number of groups that attempt to meet human needs that surround us.
I endeavor to follow in the footsteps of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as my own Christian and Quaker heritage. I simply do not believe that Jesus would have engaged in, or encouraged others to engage in wars and violence. I believe that the wars that my government pursues, supported and encouraged by an economy and philosophy dominated by military and corporate greed, are in violation of international laws. Beyond that, these policies cause death and displacement of millions of ordinary people. They undermine entire economies and cultures. They contribute noticeably to planet devastation. The increase hatred for our country around the world and thus actually undermine our own potential security. And funds for wars and the military amount to about one-half of our federal discretionary budget, a huge amount that seems to go unnoticed by our leaders and the media, as the government attempts to “balance the budget.”
I want to be complicit in supporting and paying for war as little as I can.
Peg Morton, Eugene
SAVE THE SERVICES
Reading comments from various individuals objecting to the fee to save city services reveals how completely clueless many are about what’s at stake here. There’s a lot of things to be angry about, but a modest fee to save essential services ranging from CAHOOTS to a fire engine to swimming programs for elderly people is not one of them.
Let’s be clear about something here: Reducing or eliminating services such as CAHOOTS or Buckley House will not save anybody money. Everyday CAHOOTS responds to countless calls involving people who are in distress that would go to vastly more expensive (and already overwhelmed) emergency services if they weren’t available. Everyday Buckley House provides shelter and treatment services to people who would be going to jail or the hospital if they weren’t available. Reducing or eliminating these services will merely shift the burden onto more expensive services and create more fiscal problems for the people of Eugene.
Also, economics aside, a lot of people would suffer and receive little if any assistance if programs such as CAHOOTS, Station 7, Buckley House, and others weren’t available. The enemies of this fee, whether it’s their intention or not, are working to guarantee more suffering and more hardships for the Eugene community. There’s absolutely nothing positive that will come from their efforts, but they will potentially do a lot of harm. Let’s not let that happen.
Save the services!
Pat Coogan, Eugene
PLEASE TO OBEY
Obey, conform and consume. Your complete obedience is appreciated, don’t ever rock the boat, and continue to buy anything your heart desires, especially completely useless products from countries halfway around the world. Go back to work, work as hard as you can and never ever complain about anything. Don’t ever share your true feeling with your neighbors, or even friends and family.
Do everything you are told by the authorities without question, accept every tax you are asked to pay. It’s all your fault, you better just accept it. Never step out of line, you may be caught, you have much to fear, it could go on your permanent record, they are watching.
Worry about emotional issues, the big issues are too big and will fix themselves eventually. Never make anything yourself, always buy it, and please, try to always purchase from countries other than your own, it’s better that way, and make sure all purchases end up in the landfill, so buy as many cheap disposable items as possible and shun expensive but well-built, long lasting items from local sources.
Spend your entire paycheck every week, never save, always buy on credit. It is important to be continually broke so work looks that much more important, necessary and even fun. On weekends, loosen up, drink alcohol, lots and lots of alcohol, it is good for you and will guide your success. You don’t look well, have you asked your doctor for more medication? Always obey your doctor, they know best. Remember to take your pills, they are making your life better. It is mandatory to send your children to school and church, they will teach them what they need to know.
Never ever vote for anyone that has no chance of winning, always vote for winners. Never join a political party that isn’t a big one, you will be wasting your vote. Never vote anyone out of office, the people who broke the system are going to fix it someday, that’s for certain, give it time, we have to wait. Always use banks for everything, you can buy that on credit today for no money down, it’s on sale and such a good deal. Never complain about anything, do as you are told.
Your happiness depends on how you look and what people think of you. You are so incomplete, you will never measure up, so you should try to work harder and dress better. Join the club and climb the ladder of success. Learn the facts, ask the authorities for help with everything, apply for government assistance now, buy something today, go ahead, you’re worth it. Believe history as it’s written, deny reality as much as you can. Obey, conform, consume.
Lance Goin, Drain