Substance abuse has become a major problem, not only in West Virginia, but across the country. Recent studies show drug overdoses now kill more West Virginians than car accidents. It’s a serious problem with tragic consequences, and it affects people in every corner of the Mountain State. Last week, nearly two tons of unwanted prescription drugs were collected as a part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Removing these unused drugs from our communities is a step in the right direction, and I want to personally thank each and every West Virginian who took the time to clean out their home medicine cabinet.
I believe together we can and will make a difference. It’s going to take a strong and multifaceted approach, but it is possible to rid our communities of these dangerous substances. I appreciate the dedication of not only our citizens, but also our local, state and federal leaders who remain committed to identifying solutions to this problem. Together, we are approaching this issue from every angle.
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced its support of our efforts in West Virginia. They will be providing $450,000 in federal funding to support our state’s prescription drug monitoring project. These federal funds are important to our long-term action plan.
Our prescription drug monitoring project will allow our doctors and pharmacists to share information, which will in turn make it easier for our health care experts to identify those individuals who are more likely to overuse controlled substances. This information will also help put an end to doctor shopping and provide a means of identifying those who need help and allow us to those struggling with drug addictions.
Recently, I announced $7.5 million for the establishment and expansion of regionally based substance abuse support services such as prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery programs, among others. We made this additional money available because I believe it’s very important to have services in place to assist those who are struggling.
Ridding our communities of substance abuse is a complex issue, but I believe we are making progress. Thanks to each of you for your commitment-together, we will make a difference.