Candidate for Governor Announces Plan to Fight West Virginia's Drug Crisis
West Virginia Secretary of State and candidate for Governor Natalie Tennant today announced a plan to address one of the biggest threats to West Virginia's future: prescription drug abuse. As Governor, Tennant will work to stop the illegal manufacture and distribution of prescription drugs, ensure West Virginia provides much-needed assistance to those struggling with addiction, and prevent future generations from falling victim to this disease.
"Prescription drug abuse is a crisis in West Virginia that is tearing families apart, increasing crime and killing our citizens. A drain on our economy and a health and safety hazard, we simply can't afford it. Through innovation and accountability, we will turn the tide on prescription drug abuse and build a stronger West Virginia for generations to come," said Natalie Tennant, Democratic candidate for Governor.
West Virginia currently has the highest rate of prescription drug use in the country, and experts estimate that approximately 70 percent of addiction cases begin with the sharing of a valid prescription. What's more, the state ranks first nationally in deaths from drug overdoses, the majority of which result from abuse of prescription drugs. According to the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center, drug abuse costs the state $500 million each year, and drug and alcohol-related absenteeism costs the state $12 million per year.
On treatment, however, West Virginia spends only $8 million annually. The state spends nothing on drug abuse prevention, so called "early intervention" efforts to halt abuse among new users, or long-term recovery efforts. As was reported last month, the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline, which directs West Virginians to treatment centers and programs, is running out of funding and lawmakers have ignored its requests for additional funds.
As Governor, Tennant will utilize the following five steps to combat the spread of prescription drug abuse and provide long-term recovery to those suffering from addiction:
* Increase support for state law enforcement and regulatory boards to turn the tide against the scourge of prescription drug abuse that is tearing families apart, increasing crime and killing our citizens.
* Task law enforcement, the medical community, pharmacists, and educators to develop a comprehensive strategy to 1) prevent medication abuse, 2) prevent illegal drug sales on our streets, 3) educate and inform West Virginians on the risks and benefits of prescription drugs, and 4) encourage safe and effective medication use by patients.
* Provide resources for recovery for West Virginians with drug dependency. Families who are worried about loved ones don't know where to turn for help -- we need more local, affordable options for people who are struggling.
* Develop innovative methods -- such as utilizing opiate blockers in conjunction with rehabilitation, education, and community service -- to foster long-term recovery for those suffering from addiction.
* Teach our young people about the dangers of illegal drugs so that we are preventing the next generation from falling prey to this devastating disease.