Randy Yohe Published

Drug And Alcohol Abuse Counselors Bring Issues to Lawmakers


Recovery Advocacy Day at the capitol brought a sharper focus this year on the successes and challenges in helping those struggling with addiction get not just sober, but productive. Drug and alcohol counseling specialists from around the state came to petition delegates and senators, voicing support, opposition or clarification on at least 19 key legislative bills.

Joe Deegan is the Public Policy Director for the West Virginia Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors. The organization opposes House Bill 2257. If it becomes law, the bill will create extended supervision for some drug offenders, in some cases up to ten years. Deegan said if a violator does their time and follows through on probation, extended supervision can be counterproductive.

“That creates a financial burden, it creates an undue burden for these folks to get back into normal society,” Deegan said.

After lengthy debate, HB 2257 passed in the House, and now heads to the Senate .

Deegan said the group supports House Bill 4457, providing tax credits for hiring those in recovery for substance abuse. He agreed employers do take a risk, but countered that they can reap rewards.

“I’m personally recovering myself, I got hired and feel like I’m a good employee. These days there are a lot of people out there that need a chance,” Deegan said.

Recovery Point West Virginia has 365 beds in facilities statewide. Their development director, Andrew Daniels, said a 25 percent increase in covid related expenses means following through on protocols, making continued legislative funding vital.

“The ongoing process is testing, getting cleaning supplies, changing our cleaning schedules to make sure everything is clean throughout the day,” Daniels said. “There was no budget, no expenses put aside for anything like that.”

Addiction specialists said they can’t help people get clean and sober without legislative understanding of the help they need.