The drug treatment community has recently turned its eyes to West Virginia, where the State House just unanimously approved a bill that would increase funding to treatment centers and other drug rehabilitation facilities.
These lawmakers’ ultimate goal is to appropriate $24 million of funds from drug lawsuits to improve the state’s drug treatment centers. The hope is that this will open new beds and spaces for patients in drug treatment centers as soon as July of 2018.
The Settlements & The Statistics
The $24 million in question came from settlements with Amerisource-Bergen and Cardinal Health, two prominent drug wholesalers. This money was placed into the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention Recovery Fund. Ryan Brown died in 2014 as a result of a heroin overdose (precipitated by painful months and years of opiate addiction).
Some have criticized this decision as “too little, too late”. At present, West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the entire nation. The problem has become so pronounced that the economy is starting to fail as a result of addiction and incarceration.
West Virginia’s Prescription Drug Epidemic
Drug abuse is one of the most important issues to many West Virginia delegates; their constituents are contacting them in droves, pleading for increased funding for drug treatment centers. At this time, the state lacks the adequate facilities to accommodate the growing number of addicted citizens.
While opiate painkillers are West Virginia’s “drug of choice”, they are far from the only addictive pharmaceutical drugs with a potential for abuse. Anxiety medication and AD(H)D medications are also popular, especially among young West Virginians.
Building New Drug Treatment Centers
In addition to opening beds at existing facilities, leaders in the House have also approved the DHHR’s plans to construct a new drug treatment center. While nothing is set in stone yet, the intent is to build a facility for long-term drug abusers – one that will have an improved relationship with the state’s drug courts.
An Open-Ended Issue
Although this decision may “get the ball rolling”, there is still a ways to go. It remains to be seen just how this money will be dispersed, and on what kind of timeline.
There is a push for these new facilities to accept patients on Medicaid, which is a step in the right direction when it comes to helping under-served West Virginia residents with drug abuse problems.
Many feel that the issue lies in a lack of education, which is what another West Virginia House bill aims to change; the primary goal of HB 2195 is to require middle schools and high schools to institute drug prevention and awareness programs for all students.
Drug Rehabilitation and Drug Injury Law
It’s heartening to see a state like West Virginia take these initial steps towards improving their high rate of pharmaceutical abuse; it remains to be seen whether other states with similar issues will follow suit.
It’s important to remember that prescription drug abuse isn’t some kind of abstract national issue; it affects people just like you and families just like yours every single day.
If you or a loved one’s life has been affected by the horrors of drug addiction and abuse, there is help out there. Talking to a knowledgeable, qualified drug injury lawyer could be the first step in finding the compensation and help you need.
Learn more about Drug Lawsuits.