Many of us have seen the headlines about pill mills flooding small West Virginia towns in southern West Virginia with hundreds of thousands of pain pills. Or heroin overdoses in Huntington.
Now, the prescription opioid and heroin crisis has come to Monongalia County. Babies are being born with physical dependencies and must go through withdrawal at birth. Local police are administering Narcan to overdose victims. It's impacting our schools, our families, and our neighborhoods. While campaigning, I met with many community leaders and voters who were worried that we weren't doing enough locally to fight the opioid epidemic.
Last year, a group of concerned leaders and community members started meeting to educate themselves on this crisis and to develop local solutions. It includes people with expertise on many aspects of the addiction crisis: city and county governments, local and state police departments, the school system, WVU, local health providers, faith leaders, a pharmacist, and others. And it now has a name: DRIVE Mon County. You'll be hearing about DRIVE Mon County over the coming months as it begins its outreach to the community.
Solving the addiction crisis requires many different efforts. We need more beds in in-state treatment facilities so that young people that need help can get treatment immediately without traveling out of state away from their support system. We need information to be more readily available so that addicts and their loved ones can find the help they need. Doctors and pharmacists need to continue taking steps to reduce the number of prescription pain pills that are prescribed. Local police are often on the front line and will continue to play an important role.
DRIVE stands for Dependence Reduction through Intervention, preVention and Enforcement. DRIVE Mon County understands that there's no single solution and that we can't arrest our way out of this problem. It's wonderful to see so many people, with such a wide range of expertise, coming together to solve a pressing problem. This is a model for how our government should work.