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Portland, Oregon Drug Problem – Addiction Facts and Statistics

Portland, Oregon Drug Problem – Addiction Facts and Statistics

Do you think there might be a Portland, Oregon drug problem? Substance abuse is a major problem across the entire State of Oregon– ranking FOURTH in the US for past-month illicit drug use–and Portland is no exception. For the most part, drug addiction statistics in Portland match up well with the rest of the state.

What is Drug Addiction?

A drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. It is marked by compulsive behaviors, and the inability to control those behaviors. People with drug addictions are almost consistently seeking drugs. This results in harmful changes to the brain, some of which can be life-long. Drug addictions rarely form overnight, although there are some types of drugs that can lead to quick addictions. In Portland, OR, heroin addiction can quickly develop with very little time spent abusing the drug. As far as how long it takes to form an addiction to a drug, this is different for everyone. Some people may develop addictions quickly, while others can take months or even years. Once someone has formed a drug addiction, the only alternative is to get drug treatment.

Can Drug Addiction be Treated?

Drug addiction can be treated, and it should be treated professionally. Stopping the use of drugs should never be attempted on one’s own. Doing so is very dangerous, and it can easily result in a relapse, and possibly even an overdose. In Portland, drugs are prevalent. That means that drug rehab should also be prevalent. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Drug addiction requires a personalized approach for everyone seeking help. This might mean combining different types of therapy to reach the desired sobriety goal. For example, patients in drug treatment in Portland are often recommended for:

  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Yoga as a drug treatment therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Equine therapy

Drug Addiction Statistics and Portland Oregon Drug Problems

Two of the best sources for current drug statistics in and around Portland are The Oregon Health Care Authority, which tracks overdoses, and the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), which analyzes which drugs pose the greatest threat to state residents. One of HIDTA’s main areas of focus is Portland and surrounding Multnomah County. After examining almost two decades’ worth of data, it becomes evident that since 1999, there has been a significant increase in several addiction-related categories:

  • Sales of controlled substances
  • Illicit drug use
  • Prescribed drug use and misuse
  • Drug dependency
  • Drug overdoses

Portland, Oregon Drug Problem Statistics

General Statistics about Substance Abuse in Oregon

The problem of Portland drug abuse and overdoses is a complex one because there are many factors that play a role in the progression of the disease of addiction – from a person’s genetic predisposition to their family history and home life, to the drug of choice in question. But, by looking at the available statistics, we can see where the Portland, Oregon drug problem may come from:

  • The 2016 HIDTA report states that in Portland, drug sales are the highest near the MAX light-rail line. Other city areas with high drug markets include Water Front Park, Old Town, Pioneer Square, and Lloyd Center.
  • Between the years of 2000 and 2012, over 4000 Oregonians died because of accidental drug overdoses – an average of 322 per year.
  • During that same time period, more than 15,000 Oregon residents were hospitalized for unintentional/accidental overdoses.
  • Although the rate of fatal overdoses has declined since 2007’s peak, it is still almost double what it was in 1999.
  • Males in Oregon die from fatal overdoses at a rate that is one-and-a-half times that of females.
  • Yet, the rate of hospitalization for females who have overdosed is 20%
  • The highest rate of fatal accidental overdoses is in the 45-54-year-old age group.
  • For every type of drug, the highest death rates–and hospitalization rates for non-fatal overdoses – due to unintentional overdoses occurred among Caucasian/Non-Latino Oregonians.
  • Although they only make up 7% of the state population, veterans account for 14% of undetermined or unintentional fatal overdoses.

Statistics about Methamphetamine Addiction in Portland

Statistics about Methamphetamine Addiction in Portland

The HIDTA report surmises that “methamphetamine use and trafficking has increased in the (area) and reflects the area’s greatest drug threat…” Because Oregon law restricts the purchase of pseudoephedrine, meth lab seizures in the state have dropped by 95% since 2005. However, there are still great quantities entering the state – usually produced in Mexico and shipped through California.

  • Between 2008 and 2014, Southwest Border seizures of methamphetamines increased by 600%.
  • Since 2010, the amount of methamphetamines seized in the state has risen by more than 300%.
  • Highway seizures of methamphetamines in Oregon have skyrocketed almost 600% since 2008.
  • Approximately 90% of law enforcement officers are of the opinion that methamphetamines are “highly available” in their area.
  • Among drug treatment admissions, 36% are there for methamphetamine addiction.
  • This is a 12% increase within the past five years.
  • Methamphetamine deaths have tripled since 2001.

Opioid and Benzodiazepine Addiction in Portland

Statistics about Opioid and Benzodiazepine Addiction in Portland, Oregon

The State of Oregon had the country’s highest rate of nonmedical use of prescription opioid painkillers in 2012– 5.72% versus 4.57% for the rest of the country. To accurately judge the scope of the problem, take a look at these real numbers:

  • Within the past year, almost three-and-a-half MILLION opioid prescriptions were written for just over 900,000 Oregonians.
  • That works out to almost four opioid prescriptions per person.
  • Roughly one out of four state residents have an opioid prescription.
  • Alarmingly, there were over 900 opioid prescriptions written for every 1000 residents.
  • During that same 12-month period, the rate of benzodiazepine prescription was even higher –over 1.8 MILLION “benzo” prescriptions were written for less than 415,000 recipients – coming out to 4 per person.
  • 1 out of every 10 state residents has a benzo prescription.
  • There were 472 benzo prescriptions written for every 1000 state residents.
  • Almost 183,000 patients took both benzodiazepines and opioids at the same time, resulting in in1 MILLION prescriptions.
  • On average, a person taking both filled roughly six prescriptions within the past year.

And that’s just the number of prescriptions – which can be used as a good indicator to the overwhelming prevalence of “doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions and over-prescribing mistakes on the part of the physician. Unneeded or fraudulent prescriptions lead to abuse:

  • Prescription opioids were the most frequent cause of unintentional fatal overdoses, at 23%.
  • Prescription sedative, antiepileptic, and psychotropic drugs were responsible for 14% of fatal overdoses.
  • Methadone, as prescribed for pain, contributed to 9%.
  • Benzodiazepine medication caused 3% of fatal overdoses in Oregon.

How are Oregon residents getting the medications that they abuse?

  • Over half – 54% –were GIVEN the drug-free of charge by a relative or friend.
  • Approximately 15% either bought or stole the drug from a relative or friend.
  • Just under 20% received the abused drug from only one doctor.

Alcohol Addiction in Portland, OR

Statistics about Alcohol Addiction in Portland, OR

Looking at the other drug statistics, it is not surprising that the rate of alcohol use, abuse, and dependency are higher in Oregon than the rest of the country:

  • Nearly 60% of Oregon residents admitted to using alcohol within the past month, compared to less than 52% for the US as a whole.
  • Approximately 5% of Oregonians say they abused or were dependent upon alcohol within the past month, compared to 6.6% for the general US population.
  • Although it is the largest reason why people check into treatment – BY FAR– alcohol admission rates are trending much lower than a decade ago.
  • Despite that, 16% of all fatal overdoses in the state are due to alcohol.

Heroin Addiction in Portland

Statistics about Heroin Addiction in Portland, Oregon

One of the unexpected negative side effects of focusing on curtailing prescription drug abuse is the fact that it is driving more addicted persons to substitute heroin for prescription opioids. Heroin’s popularity is due to its easier availability and its much cheaper cost. According to the HIDTA program, heroin is the area’s second-biggest threat, behind methamphetamines.

  • At 16%, heroin is the second-leading cause of fatal overdoses in the state, and more than 50% happened in Portland or elsewhere in Multnomah County.
  • The city of Portland is the state’s main distribution hub for heroin.
  • In the five-year period 2009-2013, admissions for heroin treatment rose by 35% in Portland and other urban areas.
  • Strangely enough, this is relatively good news, because, in rural areas, heroin treatment admissions almost doubled.
  • There is a heavy traffic flow of heroin into Oregon’s HIDTA locations – since 2007, heroin seizures have increased by more than 900%.
  • Unsurprisingly, 75% of Oregon’s law enforcement officials say that heroin is “readily available” within their jurisdiction.
  • Because of all these factors, a quarter of law officers called heroin and the greatest threat in their area.

Cocaine Addiction in Portland, OR

Statistics about Cocaine Addiction in Portland, OR

Just as it is elsewhere in the country, the availability of cocaine and abuse of cocaine in the state has declined significantly in recent years. For example:

  • In the past five years, state cocaine seizures have gone down more than 40%.
  • Even more telling, highway seizures of cocaine have dropped 70%.
  • Since 2008, the number of individuals admitted to treatment for cocaine abuse within the HIDTA region has fallen 80%.

Despite all of this, the 2016 HIDTA report does state that powdered cocaine is available to a “moderate” degree and crack cocaine is “moderately to highly” available in the Portland/Multnomah County area. Marijuana Addiction in Portland

Statistics about Marijuana Addiction in Portland

Personal, recreational use of marijuana was legalized in November of 2014, and although the final effects won’t be known for a few more years, it is important to note that even before the legalization, there were two factors that indicate that problematic marijuana use in Portland and elsewhere in Oregon may be on the immediate horizon:

  • The vast majority of law enforcement officers state that both marijuana and concentrated cannabis “hash” are “highly” available.
  • Marijuana use in Portland – and indeed the whole state – is much higher than the US average, ranking #5 in the nation.

Addiction Treatment in Portland

Statistics about the Portland, Oregon Drug Problem

If there’s one thing that all of the statistics tell us – especially the overdose figures – it’s that there is a real and pressing need for an effective treatment for the variously-manifesting substance abuse disorders in Portland. However, a significant percentage of addicted individuals can’t get the help they need:

  • Statewide, more than 300,000 people suffer from untreated addiction.
  • On average, addiction counselors are burdened with caseloads that are twice the US average.
  • The national standard for individual counseling is being met only 25% of the time.
  • At the same time, group therapy size is double what is recommended.

A report from the Oregon Health Authority states that there is an “unmet need” for treatment for both drug abuse and alcoholism in the state, saying that 2.7% of drug abusers and 7.1% of alcoholics aren’t getting the help they need. So what can we learn from all of this? FIRST – people in Portland, and indeed all of Oregon, suffer from various addictions at a rate that is higher than the US average. SECOND – they aren’t necessarily getting the help or treatment that they need. THIRD – because of the first two facts, if you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol, then the Portland addiction rehab facility/program you choose becomes even more important.

Substance Abuse Treatment in Portland, OR

Treating an addiction should always be a personalized endeavor. Drug addicts are all very different. This means that two different patients are not going to have the same needs. In order to help each patient, a unique approach needs to be taken. Personalized treatment plans can help to accomplish this goal. Treating substance abuse may involve many different types of therapy, some of which include:

  • Individual and group counseling
  • Medication therapy to help with withdrawal symptoms
  • A 12 Step Program
  • Team building activities
  • Various recovery support services, such as employment and educational support

Also, the type of therapy utilized for each patient should differ as well, based on their needs. Therapists often use a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, and EMDR Therapy. There may be additional therapy methods used if the patient is in need of them.

Types of Substance and Alcohol Abuse Treatments

There are a number of different types of substance and alcohol abuse treatments patients can benefit from. Each one is unique, and the addiction treatment should be tailored for each patient.


Detoxification is the method of treatment used to detoxify the patient’s body. When drugs or alcohol are used, toxins are left behind. These toxins can make it so much more difficult to abstain from using substances. They often lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, or at least withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to quit. Drug detox assists patients with removing these toxins from the body. This helps to improve long-term recovery outcomes. It also makes the early recovery period much easier to go through. There are different types of drug detox. Some patients are appropriate for medical detox, with detox medications. Other patients are more appropriate for holistic detox, which does not involve the use of medications.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is available for many people in Portland, Oregon with drug problems. Even so, it is important to note that outpatient treatment isn’t appropriate for everyone. There are different levels of outpatient treatment that may be recommended, based on the individual’s needs. A day program offers longer appointments that are held 5 to 7 days per week. Patients are able to meet with their counselors and participate in group peer counseling. Intensive outpatient treatment programs are held during the evening hours in most cases. Again, these programs have appointments for several days during the week. They involve individual counseling sessions and group therapy. Traditional outpatient treatment programs offer help for those with new, or mild addictions. These programs are also for those who have already completed an inpatient program. Patients have appointments weekly, at first. After some time has passed, those appointments maybe bi-weekly, and eventually monthly.

Self-Help and Peer Support

The 12 Step Program of recovery represents a method of treatment that is scientifically sound. So much research has been done to support this model of treatment. This is one reason why self-help groups or the 12 Step Program is often used in rehab settings. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have pioneered this method of treatment. It is based on following the 12 Steps of recovery. This leads the individual through various steps to healing from addiction. Once drug rehab is over, many patients are recommended for self-help programs and peer support. They need a group setting in order to support the therapy they receive from their counselors. Studies have shown that having this extra layer of support makes such a difference. They are often instrumental in supporting long-term abstinence from substances.

Residential and Inpatient Treatment

Most people find that residential or inpatient treatment centers offer them a great deal of support. Stopping the use of drugs is so difficult. Because of the Portland, Oregon drug problem, it’s safe to say that most people need this higher level of care. Residential treatment and inpatient treatment are similar, but they also have their differences. For those seeking residential treatment, they are in need of a longer period of care. Some facilities will allow patients to stay for as long as six months. In some cases, they can even stay longer. Inpatient treatment is more for short-term care. Most inpatient drug rehabs allow patients to stay for a period of about 30 days. At that point, they are transitioned into a lower level of care.

Differences in Portland, Oregon Addiction Treatment Types

Regardless of what type of addiction treatment you choose, you will get excellent treatment. However, these methods are not all the same. Some people need more support and more supervision. Many don’t have solid support systems at home. This means they need additional professional support in order to be successful. If you live in Oregon, Idaho, or Washington, then your first, best choice should be Northpoint Recovery – the region’s #1 addiction treatment center. By using an evidence-based approach to treatment, the clinical staff at Northpoint Recovery can offer you and your loved ones the education, support, and guidance needed to restore balance, sobriety, and hope to your lives.

The Answer for Portland, OR’s Drug Problems is Addiction Treatment

At Northpoint Recovery, we understand how serious the drug problem is in Portland, Oregon. This is why we have done extensive research to ensure that our program is top-notch. We have one of the best success rates for drug rehab programs in Oregon. In reading the above statistics, you may have found that you see yourself within them. Your situation doesn’t have to remain this way. There is hope for recovery for you, and we can make it possible. Do you have additional questions about the drug problems in Portland? Are you interested in learning more about your drug treatment options? Please contact us today.

Sources: (July 2016). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Retrieved from: (December 2012). What is drug addiction treatment?. Retrieved from: (9, August 2016). Treatments for Substance Abuse Disorders. Retrieved from: (12, June 2017). Drug Detoxification. Retrieved from: (December, 2012). Where do self-help or 12 step programs fit into drug addiction treatment?. Retrieved from: (13, April 2017). Residential Treatment Center. Retrieved from:

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Portland Oregon Addiction Facts And Statistics