West Virginia can and should be a leader. From energy to education to tourism, our state has much promise to lead the country in these areas and many more, as we build a stronger future for ourselves and our children.
But at the moment, we're leading the nation in something else entirely. Something that is tearing families apart, endangering our children, and threatening our economic wellbeing. Prescription drug abuse.
Right now, our state has the highest rate of prescription drug use in the country. And we are leading the nation in deaths from drug overdoses, most of which result from prescription drug abuse.
The fall-out from this crisis -- and a crisis is exactly what it is -- isn't limited to individual families and communities. Our state's economy as a whole is hurting. West Virginia spends more than $500 million dollars each year on the consequences of drug abuse. It costs our law enforcement, our courts and our prisons. It ups our health-care costs, and it means our work force isn't as productive as it could and should be.
Prescription drug abuse is threatening West Virginia's future. And we simply can't afford it.
Yet I am hopeful. By working together and addressing the real causes of the problem, we can conquer our prescription drug crisis. As Governor, I will be committed to building a stronger West Virginia. That means safe communities, a healthy workforce, and a thriving economy.
As we have become an unwilling leader in prescription drug abuse, we should become a willing and forceful leader in stopping it. As Governor, I will make ending this abuse a top priority. Through innovation and accountability, we will change course, helping those West Virginians struggling with the cycle of addiction, stopping the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs, and preventing future generations from falling victim to this disease.
I will work hand-in-hand with our law enforcement, medical community, pharmacists, educators and citizens to develop an innovative plan to tackle this issue head on. We will work to prevent medication abuse, stop illegal prescription drug sales on our streets, educate and inform West Virginians on the risks and benefits of prescription drugs, and encourage safe and effective medication use by patients.
We must also focus our attention on helping West Virginians get the rehabilitation and care they need. Not only do we have to prevent future abuse, we have to help those who suffer today. Families are worried about loved ones and don't know where to turn for help. Currently, our state does not have any resources allocated for early intervention or recovery. And the statewide hotline that helps West Virginians find treatment is running out of funding. We need more local, affordable options for people who are struggling.
As Governor, I will look to new and 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.
Together, we can overcome this crisis. We can show the nation how to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse. We can strengthen our communities, and build a stronger, more diverse economy. And we will do it through innovation and accountability.