Tackling substance abuse in the Mountain State

By Earl Ray Tomblin | Feb 4, 2015

CHARLESTON – Substance abuse is a heartbreaking problem facing families across West Virginia each and every day.

With the help of the Governor's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, we've taken bold action to stop the production of meth and increase practice standards for pain clinics to ensure our residents are using prescription drugs responsibly.

Over the past two years, we've worked together to draft legislation and approve new rules to regulate pain management clinics across the state.

Since July, the Department of Health and Human Resources has inspected seven pain clinics. Three of those have been ordered to close and denied licensure for violation of these new standards.

Our residents must have access to pain management treatment options but not at the expense of irresponsible prescription practices.

Across the country, and here in West Virginia, we have all witnessed the tragedies substance abuse can bring to our communities, our families and our kids. With a number of initiatives built on bipartisan support, the Mountain State is fighting back.

As we continue our efforts to address the abuse of prescription medications, we also must be prepared to combat the increased availability of illegal street drugs. Heroin use is on the rise, and we must stop this lethal drug from ruining the lives of our citizens.

During my State of the State address, I introduced legislation to help our state's emergency responders and families facing drug abuse save the lives of those who use heroin.

This week, members of the West Virginia Legislature are considering my proposal to expand access to Naloxone, a life-saving drug, to family members and caregivers of those struggling with drug abuse in an effort to prevent overdose deaths and give abusers the opportunity to seek help, overcome their addiction and return to their families, work places and communities.

With the help of the Governor's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, a number of critical initiatives have been established to support ongoing efforts in local communities and provide those struggling with addiction with access to the help they need.

I'm proud of the work we've done and the progress we have made to put an end to substance abuse in West Virginia. I'm confident that, together, we can continue to combat the tragic consequences of this epidemic across our state and in our communities.

Tomblin is West Virginia's governor.

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