Last week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin met with members of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse (GACSA), which he established in 2011, to discuss progress made in recent years in West Virginia’s fight against substance abuse. Since it was created, GACSA has coordinated 20 rounds of community meetings in six regions across the state and helped drive major policy reforms to help curb this epidemic.
“When I established this advisory council, my vision was to create a community-driven approach to tackling our substance abuse epidemic,” said Tomblin. “By working from the ground up, we have been able to address needs in specific regions across our state while making broad, statewide reforms.
“We now look at substance abuse as an illness, not a crime. We have increased access to life-saving Narcan. We’ve expanded and improved treatment and recovery services. And we established West Virginia’s first-ever substance abuse help line, which has received more than 7,500 calls since it launched just over a year ago. This progress, and so much more, is making a difference for individuals, families, children and communities across the Mountain State.”
At today’s meeting, Tomblin announced that $1.3 million in funding, a result of a lawsuit settlement from drug distributors who allegedly helped contribute to West Virginia’s substance abuse problem, will be used to support projects in the state ranging from residential treatment and recovery services for women, to detox/crisis stabilization beds for youths and adults and law enforcement-assisted diversion.
In addition, he shared that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has submitted a substance abuse disorder demonstration waiver for approval to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If approved, this waiver would improve quality of care and outcomes for Medicaid enrollees with substance abuse disorder issues.
“Our work to bring more resources to West Virginia has not lessened, and we will continue bringing in everything we can to fuel our work to curb this far-reaching problem,” Gov. Tomblin said. “Together, we are giving West Virginians back their lives, their independence, their families – and their hope.”
Snapshot of Substance Abuse Resources & Programs in West Virginia
• The 844-HELP4WV call line is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week and accepts phone calls and text messages. The website – www.help4wv.com – includes a live online chat application.
• Substance abuse prevention services are provided in all 55 counties in West Virginia. More than 130 crisis detoxification beds in residential treatment facilities exist across the state with more sites under development. An additional 118 beds are designated for short-term, post-partum, youth and long-term treatment. Nearly 700 beds are available to those seeking help and support at peer and provider recovery homes and facilities
• The West Virginia Division of Corrections offers programs focused on combating substance abuse in the state’s prisons and jails. Nine Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) units in correctional centers across the state provide six-month to one-year courses of inpatient treatment with a total reach of 491 inmates. The RSAT model has been expanded to regional facilities.
• Through a pilot program overseen by the DHHR, medication assisted treatment is available for paroling or discharging inmates who have completed substance abuse programs and show motivation for continuing treatment. This pilot program has been expanded through legislation passed this year and has begun development in regional jails.
Both prisons and jails offer outpatient substance abuse counseling programs, including 12-step peer-to-peer programs and a 39-session program focusing on addiction education, transitional skills for recovery and relapse prevention.