Research suggests that Oregonians are drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol more often than they used to. In 2014, according to the Oregon Health Authority, 1,639 Oregonians died from alcohol-related causes. That figure had already increased 27 percent between 2001 and 2010.
In 2015, 155 Oregonians died because of alcohol-impaired driving. That year Oregonians were 19 percent more likely to die as a result of alcohol-impaired driving than the average U.S. resident.
Drunk Driving and its Consequences in Oregon
From 2014 to 2015, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving in Oregon increased by more than 40 percent. Impaired drivers caused 35 percent of all Oregon traffic deaths in 2015.
Between 2003 and 2012:
1,232 Oregonians were killed by drunk driving.
Oregon men were three times more likely than women to die in drunk-driving collisions.
Young people were two times more likely than other Oregonians to drive drunk.
People convicted of impaired driving in Oregon face severe consequences. At minimum, someone convicted of a DUII will pay a $1,000 fine, serve jail time or community service, enter probation and have their license suspended. Oregon judges can also require that an ignition interlock device be installed on the vehicle of someone convicted of a DUII.
Serial offenders can face up to five years in prison for their third offense, lose their license, and be required to pay up to $125,000 in fines.
The consequences for drunk driving are clear. They’re written down. Other kinds of dangerous drinking don’t have obvious effects — at least, not at first.
Learn more about drug and alcohol trends in Oregon.
Alcohol addiction may not get as much attention as addiction to illegal drugs, such as heroin or meth, but alcohol dependency is a much more common and persistent problem. More people in Oregon seek treatment for alcohol addiction than they do for any other substance.
In 2014, nearly 6,000 Oregonians went into rehab for help with an alcohol use disorder. Another 4,240 people had a problem with alcohol and another substance. Altogether, 37.3 percent of Oregonians who needed help with an addiction were facing some form of alcohol problem. That’s nearly as many people as sought treatment that year for meth and heroin use combined.
Common signs of alcohol dependence include suffering withdrawal symptoms after drinking. The facts about alcoholism are that someone with an alcohol use disorder may drink in secret and start displaying unpredictable behavior. If you know someone like this, encourage them to think hard about their relationship with alcohol. That’s the first step toward the treatment that they need.
Peter Johnson is a writer and journalist who has covered politics, policy, and social issues for outlets like The Atlantic and The Stranger. He contributed to an award-winning series about the opioid addiction epidemic in 2010 as a researcher with InvestigateWest.