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Fighting Drugs Requires A Community Effort

By Staff | Apr 1, 2015

Check out the pages of your local newspaper or the images of the local evening televised news, and it’s evident that drug abuse and drug addiction are more prevalent in the area than ever before.

Perhaps a person does not even have to check out the news media to realize how serious the area’s drug problem and addiction has become. Perhaps its as close as a family member or a friend, struggling with addiction and abuse, hitting rock bottom, or facing relapse. Something we can all take away from the problem is that it is “our” problema community problem. Through the mug-shots and names that have graced the pages of our paper, it’s easy to determine that drug abuse affects us all. It affects males and females alike, high school grads and college grads, the young and the old.

Looking back to an informational drug program that was held at New Martinsville School in November, Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught stated that West Virginia leads the United States in prescription drug abuse. Furthermore, The Mountain State also leads the nation in prescription drug overdose mortality, which is the leading cause of accidental death in West Virginia. Haught remarked that eight out of 10 accidental deaths in the state involve prescription drug abuse. The number of drug overdose deaths has increased by 605 percent since 1999.

There are many options available for those who end up seeking help with addiction. The side the public often sees is the punishment side of the matter, when a person is caught by law enforcement, consequently charged and convicted. More recently, those who are convicted, if found applicable, go through the county’s drug court process.

A February 2015 press release featured in the Wetzel Chronicle mentioned a Feb. 10 event which honored the first 1,000 adults and juveniles to complete drug courts in West Virginia. As of that publication, there were 24 adult drug court programs serving 40 counties and 16 juvenile drug court programs serving 20 counties, with 581 individuals actively participating in adult and juvenile drug court programs.

Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin stated that the drug recurrence rates are as high as 80 percent for drug offenders who are simply incarcerated. The rate drops to less than 10 percent for graduates of West Virginia’s adult drug courts, and to less than 14 percent for graduates of West Virginia’s juvenile drug courts.

According to Jennifer Call, drug court coordinator for the Second Judicial District, five individuals from Wetzel County have graduated from drug court.

But what if drug court is not an option? What if a person struggling with addiction has yet to be caught or convicted? Does a person have to hit rock bottom to receive help?

The answer is no; it’s just a matter of finding, and using, the proper resources available.

One newer resource available is www.drugfreeov.com.

According to Tara Tighe, public information officer, community outreach coordinator, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of West Virginia, www.drugfreeov.com was designed and launched as part of the United State’s Attorney’s Addiction Action Plan. “The site was designed by our treatment subcommittee,” Tighe noted.

Tighe also provided an overview of the addiction action plan, which notes that heroin overdose deaths in the Mountain State have increased 134 percent between 2012 and 2013, “far outpacing the national average of 39 percent.”

“Heroin abuse is no longer solely a law enforcement problem. It has become a true public health crisis, demanding swift action and a multidisciplinary approach.”

Goals of the plan include “decreasing heroin use, promoting improved access to quality substance abuse treatment, choking off the supply of heroin to the region, and making West Virginia stronger, safer, and healthier.”

This plan was launched in December 2014 “and will expand to other parts of the Northern District in the coming months.”

The action plan overview notes that several tangible outcomes to date include: assisted in opening the first federal drug court in West VIrginia, trained local law enforcement agencies to develop standardized overdose investigation protocols, designed www.drugfreeov. com, enhanced drug education by hosting presentations by former NBA standout Chris Herren to share his struggle with heroin addiction, partnered with local school system to host interactive parent education forum on recognizing and responding to the signs and symptoms of addiction in family members, partnering with WVU School of Medicine to plan prescriber education conference to highlight best practices for prescription opioids in summer 2015, and engaging with local students to craft a drug education message that will resonate with young people and design a public service announcement and viral marketing campaign.

There are several online resources available for those who need further help with an addiction. Narcotics Anonymous, www.na.org, as well as as the local NA website at www.wheelingna.org include links to search for local weekly NA meetings.

For those who are struggling with any type of addiction, Celebrate Recovery is held every Thursday evening at New Martinsville’s United Methodist Church, located behind Captain Richard’s at 10 Howard Jeffers Drive. For more information call 304-455-1422. For more information on Celebrate Recovery check out www.nmumc.org/CelebrateRecovery.aspx.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website, located at www.drugabuse.gov, also offers a plethora of resources concerning drug abuse, including links at the very top of the page for each, Patients & Families and Parents & Educators. The link for Patients & Families, www.drugabuse.gov/patients-families, includes a section for “What to do if someone you know has a problem with drugs,” including specific sections for “Your Teen or Young Adult,” and “Your Adult Friend or Loved One.”

A special support group is also held Thursdays, 6:30-8 p.m.. at the New Martinsville Senior Center. This group is for families that have been affected by addiction. For more information, call 304-904-6012.

Furthermore, the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse, along with the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department, will be holding their second annual “Kickoff to Summer” picnic on June 13, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will be held at the Wetzel County 4-H grounds.

Also, the coalition will be holding a laser tag night at the Matthew Barker Complex in Paden City on March 26, 5 p.m., for all Paden City 6th graders and their families.

A street drug awareness program will be held at New Martinsville School on April 7, 6 p.m. The program consists of a slide presentation and a display of drug paraphernalia found in the area. A drug K-9 presentation will also be held.

On April 9, noon to 1:30 p.m., at Magnolia High School, Project Purple, a Drug Awareness Program will be presented to students from all four high schools. This is only open to students.