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The Opioid Epidemic

Video: Recovery Cafe, by Paul Steinbroner

Every two years the City conducts a Point-in -Time Count which is a snapshot of homelessness in Multnomah County, Oregon.

In the 2017 count it is noted early on that "Our community is struggling with a crisis in access to mental health services and an opioid epidemic that afflicts a growing number of our most vulnerable neighbors. See chart below showing the high percentage of disabilities, including mental illness and drug addiction among the homeless here in Portland.

"The torrent of people who have died in the opioid crisis has transfixed and horrified the nation, with overdose now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50." (Article, New York Times, 9/2/2016)

Clearly addiction is an 'all hands on deck' situation, particularly for neighborhoods that are poor and a home to the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population.

"Deaths involving prescription opioids continue to rise, but many of those deaths also involved heroin, fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue."

The first step is to recognize the problem and the second is to be an advocate for funding recovery programs at the local, state and federal levels. They offer an example of a successful model, the Recovery Cafe. They are a community of women and men who have been traumatized by homelessness, addiction and other mental health challenges coming to know all are loved and that all have gifts to share.

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