City Club of Eugene: Opiods

Jul 10, 2017

Recorded On: July 7, 2017

Air Date: July 10, 2017

From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses in the US, 60% of them due to opioid overdose. This represents quadruple the rate prior to 1999.  Currently, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  In addition to the impact in lives, the epidemic causes $55 billion in health and social costs each year.

The crisis began with a well-intentioned movement to ensure the effective treatment of pain in the 1990s.  Described as the 5th vital sign, pain became the focus of increased treatment.  Unfortunately, the preferred multidisciplinary approach did not evolve until later, leading to a huge surge in the prescription of opioid pain relievers.  This was fed by unreliable research and aggressive marketing by drug manufacturers to the point where the 5% of the world population that lives in the US consumes roughly 80% of the opioids in the world.

Recognizing the problem, the medical community has moved to reduce opioid prescriptions.  New prescribing guidelines limit the number of pills recommended for treating pain.  This leads many into alternative, more effective, treatments for pain, but others into illegal use of opioids.  We have several speakers to discuss the local dimensions of the problem.


We hear from Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell, a Ph.D. in public health, who serves as the Alcohol and Drug Prevention Coordinator and the Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Coordinator at PreventionLane. Maureen Jenne, the clinical director at Emergence, discusses community programs that assist those dependent on opioids in getting clean.  Finally, Judge Ilisa Rooke-Ley tells us about Lane County’s groundbreaking Drug Court program.

Copyright KLCC, 2017