In 2010, 1,381 Oregonians died from alcohol related causes, a 15 percent increase since 2000. There is a DUII violation written every 24 minutes in our state. Alcohol abuse costs our economy about $3.2 billion a year in medical costs, loss of productivity, violent and property crimes.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and these are just some of the measurements we have to show the terrible toll alcohol abuse takes on individuals, families and communities in Oregon.
Here’s what we know: It is time to measure different things. That will be the key to our success of creating a more health-based healthcare system in Oregon.
For example, one of the health metrics - or measurements - that coordinated care organizations will be gathering is the frequency that providers complete screenings for alcohol and drug use. We will know how often providers offer early interventions to help people at risk on the Oregon Health Plan. We will also have a goal for alcohol and drug screening that all CCOs will aim to meet, and incentives for their success.
At the Oregon Health Authority we are also working outside the CCOs to help reduce alcohol abuse.
Local coalitions are working in many counties and in tribal communities thanks to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to prevent underage drinking. School districts around the state are targeting eighth-grade alcohol use and making a difference. Studies show this is a particularly vulnerable age for our young people, and the choices they make about alcohol at that age can affect the rest of their lives.
It is also important that we take care of ourselves and our families. PEBB covers alcohol and drug abuse treatment with no deductibles or co-pays. You can call the Employee Assistance program (EAO), (800-433-2320) a free and confidential service to learn more or talk with your primary care provider.