A new organization, the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative, or RALI, of Oregon, has been formed to help address the state’s growing opioid crisis. According to state records, 809 Oregonians died as a result of an opioid-related drug overdose between 2015-2017 and it is expected that this number will continue to grow if the issue is not addressed.
RALI Oregon brings together local, state and national organizations, including community leaders, healthcare stakeholders, and business representatives, to identify best practices and solutions that will help impacted communities and families.
Oregon-based partners that have joined the effort include The Vibrant Future Coalition, Northwest Family Services, Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, the Oregon Association of REALTORS, the Oregon State Building Trades Council, the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, the Oregon State Grange, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police.
National partners include the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. CADCA Chairman and CEO, General Arthur T. Dean, was at the RALI Oregon kick-off event held at Bricklayers Local 1 and Cement Masons Local 555. General Dean commented, “CADCA has always focused on primary prevention and we hope our partnership with RALI Oregon will be a model for other organizations and communities of how to not only enhance local prevention efforts but also increase community awareness about the dangers of substance use and misuse. Together we can build safe and healthy drug-free communities."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many addictions to illicit opioids like heroin, begin with the misuse of prescription painkillers. In fact, more than 80 percent of heroin users reported first misusing prescription medications. One key addiction prevention strategy is carefully controlling access to these medications in homes.
Two of RALI Oregon’s initial focus areas are related to this prevention strategy. The organization will educate state residents about the warning signs of opioid misuse and the importance of safe disposal of unused medications. Early intervention when someone is misusing drugs can help prevent addiction. And safe disposal of unused medications reduces the chance someone else – especially children and teenagers who are more likely to develop addictions - will take them.
One of RALI Oregon’s first efforts in the state was bringing the RALI CARES (Community Awareness. Readiness. Engagement. Service) educational tour to the state. The tour – an interactive experience for families to tour a sample teenage bedroom and be educated on the warning signs that children or teenagers may be using drugs – visited Portland, Beaverton, and Salem. It was designed by former law enforcement personnel based on their experience in their communities especially with families that have lost a child to overdose.
For more information on RALI Oregon and ways to address the opioid crisis across the state, visit rali-or.org.