PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One group of moms spent this Mother’s Day in Portland, fighting for state action to end the addiction crisis. The movement even took them to Governor Brown’s home. The group was made up of moms who have lost children to addiction, have children still struggling, or their children are in recovery, but they came together with one singular plea: more needs to be done about the drug crisis.
Two years ago, Cathy McInnis lost her daughter Katie to alcohol addiction. Now, she spent her Mother’s Day fighting in her memory.
“Two weeks before she passed away, she was at the state capitol with Oregon Recovers sharing her story with state representatives about the lack of support, lack of treatment,” said McInnis.
She said her daughter struggled every day to find help — something many others see across Oregon.
“There’s no help. There’s no place to go,” said McInnis. “When someone needs help to get into any kind of treatment, it’s, like, call back in a week, call back in six months.”
Moms like McInnis rallied together for a Mother’s Day mobilization Sunday, marching from Woodstock Park to Governor Brown’s home to demand state action.
Organizers point out since the pandemic, alcohol and drug-related deaths have increased but residential treatment options have dropped dramatically.
“You have multiple agencies that have money but they’re not coordinating with each other,” said Mike Marshall, executive director of Oregon Recovers. “Under COVID, we’ve lost 60% of youth treatment capacity, 40% of adult residential treatment capacity, 45% of our detox beds. But no one has been appointed to claw those back, to get those opened now that we’re coming out of COVID.”
Studies also show that Oregon is one of the states hardest hit by the addiction crisis, with the second highest addiction rate and ranking 50th in access to treatment.
Kelly Hernandez’s son is still on the streets battling substance abuse.
“I want him to get help. It’s hard to access help for him. There’s a lot of stigma,” said Hernandez. “These moms here give me strength to keep going and I feel like we can make a difference.”
At the end of the march, the moms took red flags with dozens of names of those impacted by addiction and placed them in the governor’s yard, hoping with each name that action is made.
“I’m carrying Katie’s legacy on but I’m also here to help other mothers and fathers and people in our state,” said McInnis, “so that they don’t have to suffer the pain that I have suffered and/or the loss of a child.”
Just this week, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office pointed out that in 2021 the county saw more overdose deaths than fatal car crashes.
It’s an alarming statistic stretching well beyond the area, as well. The CDC estimates more than 105,000 Americans die from overdoses each year with a majority related to substances like fentanyl.