Tackling the drug problem in West Virginia | News, Sports, Jobs
West Virginians know how to tackle tough problems. We faced a mortal enemy over two years ago, and many of us have sprung into action – doing everything in our power to defeat COVID-19. This hard work brings us closer to transitioning out of the grip the virus had on us. And all the while, officials shared a common goal to save lives.
Yet another scourge has never left us. According to WalletHub “States with the biggest drug problems” report, West Virginia has the largest drug problem in the nation, using data for the period ending April 2021. That’s a big deal.
Mountain State has an average of 81.4 drug overdoses per 100,000 people, nearly eight times higher than South Dakota, which has the fewest.
For law enforcement, which includes factors such as drug arrests per capita, employee drug testing laws, and prescription drug monitoring laws, West Virginia is third. For drug use and addiction, we are fourth. But for drug-related health issues and drug rehab, the Mountain State is 23rd. We are a miserable 48th for the fewest people receiving treatment for drug addiction.
On the other hand, the states that performed well in the report were Minnesota, Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, and Iowa. It seems West Virginia public officials should be clamoring to learn all they can about how these states are weathering this storm.
And, of course, they should stand at the same level in the fight against this scourge that they have made COVID-19. Do what is necessary, no matter how politically popular it seems; cutting bureaucracy; keep citizens informed; celebrate successes; and work to bring healing and hope.
In the case of substance abuse, the first step in Mountain State is overcoming the stigma and apathy associated with substance abuse and mental health issues. The second step is to set aside political showboating in favor of working to bring better education, real economic transition, development, and job growth to this state.
It’s difficult. We have proven that we can do difficult things. It’s time, really, to face this monster too.