AG's office continues fight against substance abuse

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 17, 2016

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office continues to keep its fight against substance abuse in the limelight.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office continues to keep its fight against substance abuse in the limelight.

On Oct. 17, the office announced Morrisey, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear and a host of experts will gather Oct. 27 in Huntington to discuss different methods in the fight.

The neighboring attorneys general will lead a conference entitled, “Taking Back Our Communities: Combating the Opiate Epidemic.” It will take place Thursday, Oct. 27, at New Life Church in Huntington.

“Huntington, in many ways, has been the epicenter of the state’s opioid crisis,” Morrisey said in a statement. “Conquering this epidemic requires input from various states, government agencies and yes, our faith partners. This conference will capture all three and do so in a powerful way.”

The office said attendees will have the opportunity to hear from law enforcement, health care professionals, government officials and faith-based leaders who all share the goal of eliminating drug abuse in their communities.

Darrell Huffman, pastor of New Life Church, sad the Tri-State needs a vision to overcome addition.

“My hope is that people learn this is not a hopeless situation and they are not helpless,” Huffman said. “By everyone coming together and joining resources, we can present a vision to this community and the entire region that you can change your life.

"That is what I'm hoping comes out of this.”

Discussion topics will focus on educating community members to better understand drug addiction and what they can do to help those battling opioid abuse. The conference also compliments the ongoing efforts of many organizations and will allow each to collaborate with others in hopes of ending opioid addiction.

The event is free and open to the public; however registration is required as lunch will be provided. For information or to register, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/OpiateCrisis

And on Oct. 13, Morrisey's office said it welcomed recent support from the West Virginia Nurses Association for an initiative aimed at cutting prescription opioid use by at least 25 percent.

In a letter, the Nurses Association said its leadership writes in “emphatic support” of the best practices tool kit, which the Attorney General unveiled in draft form in May and finalized in August.

“WVNA applauds the Attorney General’s office for taking this hands on approach to assist in improving our state’s health,” wrote Beth Baldwin, the group’s president. “This front-line approach encourages health care providers to learn and utilize alternative therapies to treat pain, receive complete education and training in appropriate approaches to pain control and identify and assist potentially impaired or afflicted citizens in need of life restoring or saving therapy.”

The Nurses Association joins the American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association and West Virginia’s Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, along with the West Virginia State Medical Association and the West Virginia Board of Medicine among many others supporting this first-of-its-kind initiative for the Mountain State.

“I thank the West Virginia Nurses Association for its strong support,” Morrisey said in a statement. “Nurses are on the frontline of pain treatment and play an important role in ensuring that today’s patient does not become tomorrow’s addict. It’s an honor they recognize our guidelines as the best tool to limit opioid prescriptions.”

The best practices initiative urges prescribers to regularly monitor their patient’s use of opioid drugs; utilize physical exams and urine tests to spot evidence of misuse; and educate each patient about the risks of opioid treatment, only then approving opioids after a screening and consideration of alternatives.

Likewise, pharmacists are encouraged to verify the legitimacy of each patient, prescriber and prescription, in addition to ensuring the medication, dose, quantity and any mix thereof is safe and appropriate.

It underscores the importance of both professions utilizing the state’s controlled substance monitoring database; educating patients about safe use, storage and disposal of opioid drugs; and incorporating naloxone into opioid treatment discussions.

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