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Justice speech short on details for combating West Virginia’s opioid crisis


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As drug overdose deaths soar in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice pledged Wednesday night to support West Virginia University’s research on opioid addiction, but he offered no comprehensive plan for addressing the health crisis.

In his State of the State address, Justice praised WVU’s Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, saying he had talked to a researcher who showed him a vial of microchips that can be implanted in addicts. Justice said the institute is doing “the most landmark stuff that you can possibly imagine.”

“He said it may well be they can cure the opioid addiction,” Justice said. “They can take away the craving. One of those chips can last a year. It is unbelievable what’s happening right there in our home state. I’m going to support them in every way that I possibly can to strive to combat this terrible drug epidemic.”

In 2016, 881 people fatally overdosed on drugs in West Virginia. That was the highest drug overdose death rate of any state.

“We have to stop … this terrible drug epidemic,” Justice said. “If we don’t, it will cannibalize us. We know we have to build treatment facilities. We have to have additional social workers, and additional law enforcement.”

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