West Virginia receives awards to combat opioid crisis

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(AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

CHARLESTON WV (WVNS)– West Virginia received awards to help fight crimes and improve West Virginia’s communities. U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announces awards of almost $38 million on Dec. 13,2019.

The awards came from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Around $8 million will support families, children and crime victims affected by the nation’s opioid crisis.

“West Virginia has the highest overdose rate per capita of any state in our nation, and the impacts of this epidemic can be felt by every family, every community and every part of our state.” Sen. Manchin stated in a release.

According to the release, Sen. Manchin believes that the treatment that people can get from dealing with substance used disorder can help get a jumpstart of healing the state and nation.

“DOJ has been an invaluable partner in our fight against the opioid epidemic,” Sen. Capito stated.

The release further states, that West Virginia is the epicenter of the opioid crisis, with the highest age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in the county. According to the data from Nation Institute on Drug Abuse, 833 West Virginians lost their lives to opioids in 2017, a rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, more than three times the national average.

“This funding will go a long way in helping combat the opioid crisis, and I look forward to seeing the important work accomplished by this initiative,” Sen. Manchin said.

“(DOJ) support helps local communities not only track down and prosecute those selling drugs, but also aid those struggling with addiction through drug courts and other services,” Sen. Capito mentioned.

The release further states that a $6.5 million grant to the Department of Correction Justice Service (DCJS) will support the Handle With Care initiative, a statewide program that serves children exposed to trauma and violence. The funding will also help expand the West Virginia Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

The LEAD program steers low-level offenders away from prosecution. The third DCJS will provide telehealth services, including counseling and medication assisted treatment, to underserved and geographically isolated communities in the state.

According to the release, the remaining $1.5 million in the Justice Department grants will support mental health services at-risk youth in Berkeley County, and a recovery and data program in Charleston.

West Virginia’s opioid-related grants are part of the Justice Department awards going to states, tribes, and communities to help fight opioids and other drugs. The release states that overdose deaths from methamphetamines and other psychostimulants rose 25 percent annually between 2015 to 2018.

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