Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 28, 2012

Detox units — Drug plague demands action

The state of West Virginia is expending $7.5 million in the ongoing war against prescription drug abuse. The welcomed funding will allow for the establishment and expansion of regionally based, substance abuse support centers as part of the Mountain State’s response to the rampant drug abuse epidemic.

McDowell County — an area hit particularly hard by the rampant abuse of prescription narcotics — is on the short list of proposed locations for the detoxification and stabilization unit, according to the office of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Earlier this year, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and six regional task forces recommended funding local, regional and state-wide service programs as part of a comprehensive plan to address drug abuse in West Virginia.

A detoxification and stabilization unit was recommended for region six, which includes McDowell, Mercer and Raleigh counties. We believe such a facility is urgently needed in the deep south counties — and particularly for McDowell County where the drug problem has reached crisis levels.

We realize the expenditure of $7.5 million in state funds on six detox centers and regional treatment facilities is a huge expenditure during a less-than-rosy economic climate. However, it’s money that must be spent if the Mountain State has any hope of stemming the drug epidemic permeating cities and communities.

Today, more people die of overdoses than are killed annually in road accidents.

The deep south counties of southern West Virginia have been particularly hard hit by the substance abuse plague. Young and old alike have been impacted; few families have been spared.

We cannot — and nor can our lawmakers and governor — sit idly by while families across the state are impacted by the chains of drug addiction. We must do something — and do something now — or we risk losing an entire generation to this rampant epidemic.

Kimberly Osborne, a spokesperson for Tomblin, says McDowell County is on the short list of proposed locations for the detoxification and stabilization unit.

“The detoxification unit is one unit but can be located in one of the following counties: Wyoming, McDowell, Pocahontas, Greenbrier or Webster,” Osborne said last week. “The unit will serve the entire region and those that provide that service. If we put it in one county it would still serve others.”

Given the national headlines that have come out of McDowell County in recent months, we believe the detoxification and stabilization unit should be considered for McDowell.

We welcome the state’s assistance in tackling the prescription drug epidemic. The state’s response is long overdue. Tomblin says the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will solicit bids in the coming months to establish and expand the substance treatment facilities across the state.

We would urge the governor, and the DHHR, to expedite the process due to the crisis at hand.

Every day McDowell County, and southern West Virginia, goes without a detox and rehabilitation facility is another day lost for those who are struggling to overcome addiction.

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