Pandemic in Malheur County boosts substance abuse by kids, adults

Lifeways prevention specialists Judi Trask and Paula Olvera said that those struggling with drug use need to know that help is available to them. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

ONTARIO – Local prevention experts say that there has been a marked increase in substance use in Malheur County during the pandemic. 

According to Paula Olvera and Judi Trask, prevention specialists at Lifeways, the pandemic has increased risk factors for drug use, like isolation and a lack of entertainment, while decreasing access to protective factors, like social connections and recreation. 

“People, both adults and youth, have nowhere to go and nothing to do,” Olvera wrote in an email. 

“I think our kids are staying home, they’re bored, they’re doing nothing, so they’re resorting to self medication and passing time using marijuana . . .