CHARLESTON – West Virginia officials have praised President Donald Trump’s recent move to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.
“President Trump’s national declaration brings additional attention to the opioid crisis – an issue that plagues West Virginia communities,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told The West Virginia Record. “Through litigation, education, faith-based efforts and many other avenues, my office is facing the opioid epidemic head on.
“Knowing that we have support on a national level will only increase our drive to eradicate the epidemic and help West Virginia reach her full potential.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito echoed those sentiments.
“Far too many West Virginians have been affected by the loss of a family member or friend because of a drug overdose, and many others across the country are experiencing similar loss,” Capito said. “The recent report by the Commission on Drug Addiction and Opioid Abuse was further evidence of the severity of this epidemic.
While we have made progress in curbing drug abuse, we need bolder solutions — like those detailed in the commission’s report. The president took another important step … by announcing he will declare this epidemic a national emergency, and I appreciate his commitment to making this fight a national priority.
“This declaration will help provide communities in West Virginia and throughout the country more resources to tackle this terrible epidemic and ultimately save lives.”
Trump created the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in March to develop new solutions aimed at ending and treating drug abuse, addiction and the opioid crisis.
Gov. Jim Justice said he is behind Trump’s decision.
“I agree with President Trump that we have a national public health emergency when it comes to opioid use and I support his efforts to address this epidemic,” Justice said. “I have been saying all along that we have an emergency in West Virginia with opioid and drug addiction. This devastating scourge is taking the lives of hundreds of our citizens every year.
“I am deeply saddened every time I read the letters I receive from West Virginians talking about their loved ones they’ve lost to drug abuse. We must act now to do something to solve this horrible problem that is cannibalizing our state.
“Through significant job growth, which restores hope, and working together with President Trump, we can resolve this terrible dilemma.”
U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins said he discussed the issue with Trump recently on Air Force One on the ride back to Washington after Trump spoke at the National Boy Scout Jamboree.
“He was in tune and knew West Virginia had been hit very hard by this problem,” Jenkins told The Record. “I know he’s very engaged on this matter, and this declaration is a welcomed action.
“This declaration will give West Virginia to respond to this urgent public health crisis. Too many sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends have been lost to the disease of addiction throughout West Virginia.
“He and I discussed the drug crisis in West Virginia and the next steps we needed to take to address this critical issue. This emergency declaration will help our state step up the fight to stop drug trafficking and addiction. It allows us to cut through red tape and advance treatment programs, offers support for law enforcement and Oks funding on virtually every aspect of this crisis.”
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Jenkins said the issue is an important one to him.
“I worked diligently to help secure hundreds of millions of dollars for treatment, law enforcement and drug courts,” Jenkins said. “In addition, I helped authorize the full $1.6 billion President Trump requested for the southern border wall, which will help stop the flow of black tar heroin into the United States.
“The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis endorsed several pieces of legislation that I am proud to cosponsor, and I hope the committee’s actions will spur Congress to act on these bills. One such bill would expand the use of prescription drug monitoring programs to make sure states are sharing real-time data to prevent prescription drug abuse, while another would remove Medicaid barriers that are currently limiting the number of treatment beds available.
“Solving this crisis will take all of us working together – local, state, federal, Congress and the White House. I thank President Trump for this leadership on this critical issue and wholeheartedly support this declaration.”