Capito Op-Ed Highlights How Local Efforts Contribute to Combatting Opioid Crisis
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – In an op-ed for the Martinsburg Journal, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) explains how the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which is expected to be signed into law this week, will help tackle the opioid epidemic, as well as how West Virginia—specifically the Eastern Panhandle’s—experiences with the drug crisis helped shape the comprehensive legislation. Senator Capito’s op-ed follows her recent visit to the Eastern Panhandle, where one of her stops included a visit to the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle with Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards.
“As West Virginians know, there is no silver bullet when it comes to the opioid epidemic, but these solutions and the many, many others in the SUPPORT Act are all an important next step in this broader, ongoing fight. Rest assured that I will continue working to deliver similar solutions, and I will continue fighting for every person whose life is touched by this crisis,” Senator Capito wrote in the op-ed.
The full op-ed is available here and below.
How local solutions can solve the national opioid crisis
By: U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
October 21, 2018
As Eastern Panhandle residents know far too well, West Virginia has struggled with the opioid crisis longer and harder than most other states. While that reality has been tough on our state, it has also helped us become a leader when it comes to fighting back.
West Virginians have learned a lot from our struggles with the opioid epidemic. We better understand some of the causes and how we can deal with them. We’ve seen what is working and what isn’t. And we’ve learned that the ripple effects go far beyond those struggling with addiction.
It’s these lessons and insights that enabled me to help shape groundbreaking legislation Congress recently passed to address the drug crisis, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, also known as the SUPPORT Act.
When thinking about “next steps” for fighting the opioid epidemic, one of the first things I realized was the formula for state funding was not providing adequate resources to the hardest hit states; and I worked to make sure that funding formula was changed. As a result, the SUPPORT Act reauthorizes state grants in a way that ensures states like ours — small states with big problems — will begin to receive the resources we desperately need.
Something else I realized was that we don’t have the treatment facilities or the workforce to adequately support individuals seeking treatment. To address these needs, I worked to create a grant program establishing Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers in the most affected areas, and provisions that will help increase and better prepare our health care workforce.
Another challenge we’ve seen in West Virginia involves bad actors who are taking advantage of those in crisis. That’s why I secured a provision in the SUPPORT Act to hold fraudulent substance abuse treatment programs and recovery centers accountable by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to bring enforcement actions to combat these scams. Not only will this provision help put an end to the fraudulent practices taking place, but it will also provide help to those who are trying to chart a better path toward sobriety and a successful future.
Of course, it’s not all about dealing with challenges related to the opioid epidemic. The SUPPORT Act also focuses on many of the solutions that are working West Virginia.
One great example is the Martinsburg Initiative, which is spearheaded by the Martinsburg Police Department, Berkeley County Schools, Shepherd University and the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The goal of the initiative is to stem the opioid addiction problem by identifying and trying to eliminate the basic causes of drug abuse in at-risk families; and thanks to the support of a wide array of local partners such as the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, it’s making a real difference.
Last week, I had the chance to see how the initiative is having an impact during a visit with this Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards to the Boy and Girls Club. Having a chance to speak with staff, volunteers and the children they care for, it was very clear how much these local partnerships are helping children, strengthening families, and empowering communities.
As Director of Operations Amber Glennon puts it, the kids “get to learn instead of being afraid of an officer. They learn they are really here to help and who they are.”
Something as simple as providing a safe place where children have an opportunity to learn and interact with law enforcement can have a really positive effect on development and help children avoid the path to addiction all together. It’s that kind of environment that the Martinsburg Initiative works to cultivate and something that could also work in other communities across the country.
That’s exactly why I worked to secure several provisions in the SUPPORT Act related to childhood trauma and prevention, including language to help identify, prevent, and mitigate the effects of drug-related trauma on infants, children and their families. A few examples are provisions to support the creation of a task force to identify and share trauma-informed best practices within federal grant programs, a grant program to link educational agencies with mental health systems to increase student access to support services, additional funding for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the expansion of programs to increase the mental health workforce for this population. These measures will all help complement and amplify the work of efforts like the Martinsburg Initiative, and they’ll enable other states to develop similar programs.
As West Virginians know, there is no silver bullet when it comes to the opioid epidemic, but these solutions and the many, many others in the SUPPORT Act are all an important next step in this broader, ongoing fight.
Rest assured that I will continue working to deliver similar solutions, and I will continue fighting for every person whose life is touched by this crisis.
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