Region center for drug abuse

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Drug abuse in our region of the country is worse than many people may have thought – and most have had few illusions for several years that it was very, very bad.

Drug abuse death rates in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky were higher during 2014 than in all but two states (New Mexico and New Hampshire), the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

Last year, 627 West Virginians, 2,744 Ohioans and 1,077 Kentuckians perished from overdoses. That is 4,448 people – the equivalent of a small town – whose lives were snuffed out by drugs. It is nearly one-tenth of the total for the entire country.

We have suggested previously that some communities in our area needed much more federal help fighting drugs. At the same time we have recognized that an efficient use of law enforcement resources is to target drug pushers in big cities, from which the purveyors of death bring their wares to our area.

But the CDC statistics should be viewed by federal officials as a call to war – with the battlefield our three states.

More federal aid is needed for local law enforcement agencies, which find new pushers popping up as quickly as they can arrest others. More direct federal intervention in the form of drug agents working both cities and small towns in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky is essential.

Drug abuse is a far greater threat than Islamic terrorism in our three-state region. Washington needs to recognize that and declare war on drugs right here.

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