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Addiction Treatment Can Work Even When It’s Not Voluntary

By Sally Satel and Kevin Sabet

Jan. 4, 2024

As Oregon reconsiders its decision to decriminalize hard drugs like fentanyl, research shows that mandating treatment programs for drug addicts can benefit them and the public.

In 2020 Oregon voters approved Measure 110, the nation’s first law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs, including fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamines. Under Measure 110, people cited for drug possession had the option of paying a $100 fine or calling a hotline for treatment. Oregon committed marijuana tax revenue to addiction and recovery services, but in the first year after decriminalization, only 136 people in the state chose to enter treatment. Instead, the state saw a proliferation of open-air drug markets and a rise in crime, homelessness and overdoses.

A public backlash ensued, and last summer a poll of 1,000 registered voters found that two-thirds wanted a major change in the law. A campaign to “fix and improve” Measure 110 has proposed to recriminalize the possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine, prohibit the use of these drugs in public, and make drug treatment mandatory. (read more on the link below)

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