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Alcohol-related deaths on the rise across Oregon

Improving economy having an impact

Alcoholrelated deaths on the rise in...

BEND, Ore. - Oregon has seen its alcohol-related death rate more than double since 1999.

If the state keeps on this trend, it's on track to have 28 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people by the year 2025.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is looking to reduce the tally.

OLCC spokeswoman Christie Scott said part of the funding the agency receives from liquor licensing and sales goes back into the communities, to help with alcohol treatment and mental health services.

"When you think of how it benefits the local government, because they use that money to help fund their police departments, their fire departments, which, as you know, are first responders," Scott said.

Between 2015 and 2017, the OLCC provided over $18 million to mental health, drug and alcohol treatment services.

That amount changes, based on how lawmakers decide to spilt up the money and how many liquor sales are transacted in a given year.

Joey Stearns, a counselor at Serenity Lane, said Tuesday that alcoholism is the diagnosis for about 50 percent of the population at Serenity Lane, and she understands why the number of alcohol related-deaths would be going up across the state.

She said especially in Central Oregon, alcohol is something that is engrained in the culture.

"It's the culture, here in Bend especially," Stearns said. "We have three or four pubs along this street here on Galveston, so they're everywhere. It's very accessible."

Best Care Treatment CEO Rick Treleaven said alcohol has become just a normal part of life, and it has increased with a better economy.

"The growing economy and the growing number of people both relate to that," Treleaven said. "Interestingly, an improved economy means more people are drinking, and drinking more heavily, and so we see that over and over and over as we go through the economic cycles."

Treleaven added that the holidays are a prime time for drunk driving incidents, and everyone should be smart about their drinking during this time of the year.


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