The governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force is prepared for another round of public meetings across the state this week. The meeting for Region 5, which concerns Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Clay, Cabell, Wayne, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln and Boone, will be held Thurs., June 19, 10 a.m. –noon at the Prestera Center in Huntington.
The Governor’s Substance Abuse Task Forces are assembled by the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to combat the growing problem of substance abuse and addiction throughout West Virginia.
The Regional Substance Abuse Task Forces are open to the public in hopes that citizens from all walks of life will participate: parents, law enforcement, doctors, treatment providers, recovering addicts and anyone else who is interested.
Regional Task Forces have been charged with moving from talking about the problem to identifying priorities and developing strategies to address the problem of substance abuse in West Virginia.
The Task Force was created 18 months ago to address substance abuse problems across the state. W.Va. was broken down into six regions, each with its own specific problems to tackle. For instance, the abuse of prescription medications is primarily the focus in Region 5.
This is the thirteenth round of regional meetings the task force has held over the last year and a half. Each region consists of several counties. Because problems vary from county to county, they try to hold their meetings in different areas of the region each time.
50 percent of Region 5 Task Force participants from session 12 believe that about half or more of W.Va. adults have taken a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them in the past year; about 4 percent of participants had even used prescription pain relievers for non-medical use in the past year.
Even more shockingly, 31 percent believe that about half or more of W.Va. high school students have taken a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them in the past year.
Prescription drug abuse has increased in the past 15 years among both adults and high school youth. However, it has decreased among both adults and high school students in the past year in West Virginia.
According to the WV Health Statistics Center, Vital Statistics System, Logan Co. ranks 5th in the state for drug overdose according to statistics gathered from 2006-10.