HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined the First Lady of the United States Melania Trump and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan in Huntington to highlight the way federal, state and local are working together to fight the opioid epidemic. They participated in a roundtable at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and at the Cabell County Courthouse Drug Court and visited Marshall University’s Digital Forensic Lab.
“I’m honored I got to join the First Lady and Acting Secretary McAleenan in Huntington today to bring national attention to how West Virginians on the front lines are fighting the opioid epidemic. They got to hear first-hand from those fighting every day and about the impacts the opioid epidemic is having on Huntington and communities across our state. The new and innovative ways our first responders and our drug courts are fighting the opioid epidemic in Huntington are crucial to ending this crisis across our country. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump, the First Lady and Acting Secretary McAleenan to find an end to this horrible crisis,” Senator Manchin said.
Huntington is the epicenter of America’s opioid epidemic. With only about 50,000 residents, Huntington and Cabell County experienced 1,831 overdoses in 2017 with 183 of those overdoses resulting in death. Since then, after the hard work of local, state and federal officials, Huntington has seen a 50 percent drop in overdose deaths.
Senator Manchin joined the First Lady and Acting Secretary McAleenan at a roundtable at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. They discussed the need for more funding for substance use disorder treatment, issues surrounding the opioid epidemic and the innovative approaches Huntington is taking to handle these issues, and neonatal research being done at Marshall University. Senator Manchin and Acting Secretary McAleenan also participated in a roundtable at the Cabell County Courthouse Drug Court. They discussed the drug court’s success in helping people struggling with substance use disorder to get the help they need.
After these roundtables, Senator Manchin and Acting Secretary McAleenan visited the Marshall University Forensic Science Center. The center provides critical forensic testing services to criminal justice systems in West Virginia and throughout the country. Marshall is providing an essential service by assisting federal and state law enforcement in their work to combat drug trafficking.