Feb 21 2013
In Pair of Roundtable Discussions with Congressman Rahall, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Kerlikowske, Rockefeller Seeks More Resources for Mental Health Treatment and Law Enforcement
CHARLESTON and HUNTINGTON, W.VA. – Senator Jay Rockefeller today said fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic in West Virginia requires a broad approach that includes additional resources for mental health treatment while giving law enforcement and health care professionals the tools they need to better target abuse.
Rockefeller joined U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske to discuss real solutions to the prescription drug abuse epidemic in West Virginia during roundtable meetings in Huntington and Charleston. Rockefeller, Rahall and Kerlikowske met with law enforcement officials, health care professionals, advocates and community members from around West Virginia.
Rockefeller said he is particularly focused on bridging the mental health and substance abuse treatment gap in West Virginia – one of the primary identified barriers to curbing the substance abuse epidemic in the state. Too often, people seeking help to address addiction can’t get it. In fact, an estimated 150,000 West Virginians need treatment for addiction each year.
“The message I keep hearing from West Virginians is simple: we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Putting addicts in jail alone will not stop prescription drug abuse,” Rockefeller said. “Men, women and young people struggling with addiction absolutely must have access to treatment. Sadly, for many it just isn’t available. We need to fix this problem.”
West Virginia has seen deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs rise at an alarming rate – with nine out of ten drug-related deaths resulting from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. West Virginia also has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country. In the past week, Senator Rockefeller has renewed a push for two bills, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Excellence in Mental Health Act, to help combat this epidemic.
“I have told West Virginians that I would keep fighting to stop prescription drug abuse, and I’ve kept my word. We still have much to do and we have to find a solution that brings everyone together—parents, police officers, judges, mental health experts,” Rockefeller said. “And I won’t give up. Today’s two roundtable discussions are with people who have seen prescription drug abuse up close and personal, and their feedback is so important in helping us understand the issue—and how to fight it head-on.
“I am honored to be with Congressman Rahall and Director Kerlikowske today as we work together to find solutions.”
Read more about Rockefeller’s history of efforts to fight prescription drug abuse HERE.
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