2018-01-31 / Letters

Where’s the action?

Dear Editor:

Once again, I’m writing about substance use disorder (SUD) or as most folks call it, addiction. Last week’s Morgan Messenger has two seemingly unrelated articles on the topic.

There was the article on West Virginia’s “Proposed opioid response plan.” I have read the plan and submitted comments as suggested. While the plan sounds good on its surface, there are no dates specified nor funding mechanisms provided for goals that require funding. The plan also doesn’t provide where the efforts will take place in West Virginia. What kind of a plan has no specifics even if they are tentative? The DHHR Commissioner Gupta states “This is a public health crisis of the highest order.” Most West Virginians don’t disagree since we are number one in addiction overdose deaths. Now we have a plan that I fear will collect dust and hold no one accountable for implementation.

The unrelated article is Governor Justice’s “State of the State” address without one mention of this public health crisis. It sounds like our president who proclaimed the opioid crisis a “public health emergency” but has done nothing to provide relief in funding and/or other federal resources to address this crisis. I will give our Senator Manchin credit for writing to the president to act on this emergency and to renew the declaration which expired on January 23.

The Messenger could also publish an article each week on the subject [The Journal has been publishing front page stories for months on different aspects of this crisis] to educate the public and reduce the stigma. This week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts week, for example. Educate the public on recovery, MAT, what the Sheriff’s Dept. is doing proactively, types of assistance, stigma and so on.

When I last wrote on the subject in October, 2016, I suggested looking at Vermont and its success with reducing addicition since it is also very rural without many resources. Part of their success is there is leadership driving it; the Vermont Governor mentions the crisis in every state address. This tiny state now has nearly 15 recovery centers, for example.

West Virginia can do better and this is a crisis that impacts everyone. We need to let our public officials know that we need to do better than words —we need action. At the National Governors Conference, the President’s Commission was applauded — but again, where’s the action?

Laurie Methven

Morgan County

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