In the midst of West Virginia’s battle against addiction, drug treatment programs of nine rehabs in the state are set to receive a combined $20.8 million funds, kept aside from legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies accused of aggravating the opioid crisis.
The settlement money received from pharmaceutical wholesalers – AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health – was transferred into a special account called the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention Recovery Fund, which was named after a Charleston man who succumbed to a heroin overdose about three years ago.
The funds would be spent on expanding the number of treatment beds and other facilities in the following nine rehabilitation centers spread across the state:
- Valley HealthCare System, Morgantown – $3 million
- Marshall University Physicians and Surgeons, Huntington – $2.8 million
- Living Free Ohio Valley, Wheeling – $3 million
- Joseph Recovery Center, Parkersburg – $3 million
- Mountaineer Behavioral Health, Martinsburg – $3 million
- Westbrook Health Services, Parkersburg – $1 million
- Southern West Virginia Treatment Through Recovery Continuum, which comprises the Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, FMRS Health Systems and Seneca Health Services, all in Beckley – $3 million
- WestCare West Virginia, Culloden – $1 million
- West Virginia University Research Corp., Morgantown – $1 million
According to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bill Crouch, the funds will be used to sustain the existing facilities and to add more beds. “As this fight is far from over, West Virginia plans to continue to explore additional funding sources from the federal government to complement these projects,” said Crouch.
In April 2017, the state legislature passed a plan to take $24 million from recent legal settlements with pharma companies and use the compensation amount to expand drug addiction treatment facilities across the state. The measure (House Bill 2428) directed the DHHR to ensure that extra treatment beds are available to the needy by July 2018.
The opioid epidemic
The opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the nation. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physicians writing millions of prescriptions for opioids have fueled the deadly epidemic ravaging the nation. Nearly half of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involve a prescription opioid. The CDC also reports that more than half a million people died from drug overdoses between 2000 and 2015.
Opioid pain medications can be effective only if taken as advised by a doctor for managing a painful condition arising from an ailment, injury or surgery. However, non-medical use or abuse of opioids to feed one’s addiction has led to a severe crisis across the U.S. After alcohol and marijuana, opioids are the most widely abused substances, followed by street drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. However, addiction to prescription opioids can be treated with timely medical intervention. If a person is grappling with opioid use disorder, he/she must seek professional help from a reputed rehab center.
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