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Illegal substances are part of addiction problem in Oregon, but alcohol is biggest killer

By Amelia Templeton (OPB), March 15, 2023

Alcohol is the great dirty little secret of the pandemic,” said Dr. Robin Henderson, the chief executive for behavioral health for the Providence health system in Oregon. She said alcohol is a significant cause of visits to Providence emergency departments. “We put a lot of effort into the opioid crisis and I don’t mean to diminish that at all, but we’re not having those same conversations about alcohol,” Henderson said. On average, six people die each day in Oregon from alcohol related causes, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Drunk driving crashes and acute alcohol poisoning make up a relatively small fraction of those deaths; the majority are due to the long term effects of alcohol, including alcoholic liver disease, heart disease and cancer, according to state epidemiologists. Read more