On Tuesday, the House of Delegates committee on the Prevention & Treatment of Substance Abuse heard that addiction continues to claim thousands of lives each year, but a bill that would have set up a pilot recovery program in Cabell County died in committee.
Senate Bill 147 would have created a pilot program for recovery residences in Cabell. It included an amendment to part of the bill covering the timing of eviction notices and set forth the format for a petition for wrongful occupation, or eviction.
Mark York, founder of Addiction Abatement Inc., has worked alongside White House Drug Czar Dr. Rahul Gupta on substance use abatement efforts in West Virginia, many of those connected to opioid lawsuits.
York told the committee that addiction is a national crisis, not just opioid abuse, heroin, cocaine, or meth, but drugs like fentanyl which he likened to a California wildfire.
“To put it in a context that you would easily understand, it’s 107,000 people dying every year from overdoses,” he said. “That equates to a Boeing 777 dropping out of the sky every day.”
He said despite those numbers, the stigma surrounding addiction prevents more efforts to mitigate drug abuse.
York called for state and local cooperation with a focus on continuum of care and incorporating opioid settlement dollars into creating a sustainable abatement model.
Collaborative entities could include faith based, law enforcement, political, and local treatment providers, among others.
As ground zero for the opioid epidemic, York said other states will follow West Virginia’s lead moving forward.