WVPA Sharing

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblins comments on drug abuse from opening of President Obama’s visit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Press Association, with the assistance of Shayna Varner, press secretary for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, is providing the text from the Governor’s opening comments during President Barack Obama’s visit to Charleston on Oct. 21.

The WVPA thought the Gov. Tomblin’s comments might provide context and be helpful for reporters working on the state’s drug abuse problems: 

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the East End Family Resource Center for today’s substance abuse roundtable discussion as we shine a light on an epidemic affecting so many West Virginia families and communities and communities across the country. It’s good to see so many people in this room today who have come together to fight this plague on our society.

This widespread problem knows no boundaries, and it is ruining the lives of so many West Virginians and so many Americans. An addiction to alcohol, prescription pain meds or illegal street drugs can affect the richest of rich and the poorest of poor, and its aftermath can be seen on our city streets and in the rural country side.
Whether we’ve personally experienced a family member battle with addiction or watched as a friend or neighbor struggled on the path toward recovery, each of us has experienced this heartbreaking epidemic in some way or another. Over the years, substance abuse has grown into one of the largest issues we all face – one that is affecting our homes; our schools, our communities – and it must be stopped.

 

Since becoming governor, I have made fighting back against substance abuse one of my administration’s top priorities. In 2011, I established the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse to find better, more localized ways to combat this issue in our communities. We’ve enacted new legislation to shut down pill mills and provided nearly $29 million to enhance treatment and recovery services across the state, nearly doubling the programming already available and expanding services in areas where treatment options were limited or non-existent.

 

In 2012, we passed legislation to provide stricter oversight of methadone clinics and pain clinics, limit the sale of prescription drugs used to manufacture meth and establish a tracking system to monitor prescriptions and purchases through the National Precursor Log Exchange or NPLEx. To date, we’ve shut down 11 pill mills and are increasing practice standards for pain clinics to ensure our residents are using prescription drugs responsibly. We understand West Virginians must have access to chronic pain management treatment options, but not at the expense of irresponsible prescription practices.

 

In 2013, we passed the landmark Justice Reinvestment Act to provide those struggling with substance abuse in our state’s corrections system with the treatment they need to overcome their addiction, while investing in drug courts and community-based treatment services. Through these reforms, we’ve reinvested an additional $10 million to support services at these facilities.

 

This year, we expanded access to Narcan or Naloxone, a lifesaving drug, to first responders and family members of those struggling with addiction to help reduce the number of heroin overdose deaths in West Virginia. And just last month, we launched the state’s first ever 24-hour substance abuse call line, 844-HELP-4-WV, to provide referral support for those seeking help and recovery services. Our certified call line specialists have helped nearly 300 people struggling with addiction find the services the need to begin the road to recovery and return to their families, communities and workplaces.

 

While we’ve worked hard to make changes in our communities and fight back against substance abuse, I know there’s still work to be done. That’s why I’m pleased President Obama and members of his administration are joining us today – to find a way forward for us to work together to not only curb this epidemic in our communities, but in so many communities across the country.

 

It’s my hope that today’s conversation will shine a light on this national issue and help inspire ideas and new ways for us to work together to put an end to substance abuse. This epidemic can only be solved by putting partisan politics aside and working together to ensure a brighter future now and for generations to come.

 

Thank you.

 

 

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