A pair of emotional floor speeches at the state legislature Wednesday spotlighted West Virginia’s growing substance abuse problem.

Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, and Senator Mike Green, D-Raleigh, were almost giving their separate speeches simultaneously during morning floor sessions. Both spent time talking about people they know who recently died because of substance abuse.

Del. Don Perdue

Del. Perdue talked about Tina, who needed help in dealing with substance abuse, but failed to get it from the state.

“At a time early in her addiction when she might have been rescued, there simply weren’t any facilities available,” Perdue said. “About 300 long-term beds some six years ago. And you know what? We have about the same number for long-term treatment (today).”

Sen. Green told of a family member who died earlier this month in connection with substance abuse.

“Three-thirty in the morning out looking for a fix–he’s walking down the center line in Wyoming County–and he gets hit by a coal truck,” Green said.

The man, who was a star athlete in high school and went to college, got hooked on prescription drugs according to the senator. Green says public assistance helped fuel his addiction for the past eight years.

“He did nothing with that assistance. Absolutely nothing productive, nothing constructive, except to purchase illegal drugs,” Sen. Green said.

Sen. Mike Green

Sen. Green is calling for fellow senators to support a bill that would require drug testing for those receiving public assistance. He says the bill calls for a third-party to be used to make sure young children in those families get the assistance they need.

Del. Perdue has been pushing for increased funding for substance abuse treatment centers. He says raising the tobacco tax would be a good way to get the funding.

Perdue says his friend received care from Hospice at the end of her life, something she didn’t have to pay for. He says he wishes the state was as generous.

“Tina didn’t have to have money to close her life but our state could  not find the funding it would have taken to keep it open,” Perdue said. “Open at only 38 years of age to the immense possibilities the prime of life can bring.”

“I pray God judges us with the greatest passion when it comes to these that we have failed and continue to fail,” the delegate said.

(Photo: mentalhealthtreatment.net)

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  • ancoulter

    Wow...I have to say that the recognition of the FACT that Addiction is a disease recognized by the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and many many other Government and Health organizations has obviously been forgotten by those commenting here. The sad truth is that many of us suffer from Addiction to Substances such as Opiates or "pills" that are being referred to. I am one of those individuals and I have struggled for the past 11+ years to pay for my treatment. And I have remained clean and in recovery bc I have been able to recieve treatment. To say that those who are "druggies" dont usualy stay clean or that they will say anything to stay out of trouble....maybe that's the case when the disease is raging.....but the fact of the matter is that is the nature of the DISEASE not the individual. And this disease that I suffer from, Opioid Addiction is a debilitating and horrific disease that has robbed me of so much....I have suffered and made hard choices....so why is it that those of you here are so quick to judge when it's our disease that someone suggests making treatment more available for? Would you condemn a diabetic? Someone suffering from Cancer? No I don't think you would. Think ab it. Those "Druggies" that you're talking ab...we are your sisters, your friends, your parents, your local grocery cashier, police officers, judges, reporters, even policitcians. There is ONE Truth that you should really recognize.....this disease of Addiction...it does NOT Discriminate!


  • thornton

    WE did not fail anyone as a first source to find blame but their family may have failed them and they certainly failed themselves.
    There are consequences in Life to being an idiot!

  • WanMan

    These guys all sit around eating their free lunch coming up with "ideas" to justify robbing us three months of the year. Problem is, all of their ideas always cost the working class even more in the end. I will take their concerns hook-line-and-sinker just as soon as they have to live by the sames rules I do...

    Meantime, go back to sleep guys, every time you open your mouth it costs me...

  • Mike

    Dont raise tax on tobacco, raise it on your beloved alcohol, you people higher up like to get out on the golf course and drink your beer hike the tax on it OR your yearly bonuses if you really care about gettn these people help.

  • Larry

    I think dude is right, after all how many of these serious druggies ever really get clean, very few.

  • Jason

    Why should the taxpayers have to pay for anything? Personal responsability and accountability does not cost anything and the government does not have to be involved - unless a law is broken.

  • Mike

    West Virginia or any state for that matter, can fund, develope and institute mandatory drug treatment and voluntary drug treatment at the expense of the taxpayers from here to eternity. Fact is, drug and alcohol treatment will only work if the individual truely wants to quit. Courts give the option; jail or treatment......Sure, I'll take the treatment to stay out of jail. Working in healthcare for the past 23 years has proven to me that people will say or agree to anything that will benefit them or keep them out of trouble for a short period of time. Mostly, when they run out of money and can't get a fix. Check day arrives and out the door they go!

  • Larry


  • Levelheaded

    We need to crack down on these doctors and PA's that are putting these pills on the street.

    • derek

      Your right alot of the problems are coming from these doctors offices. There more or less a legalized pill mill!

  • dude

    send all drugies to an iland, give all the drugs they want and waste them selves, save the tax payers millions of dollars.

  • DaiAtlas

    Great idea Senator Green! Lets add hunger and an inability to find or pay for housing to their drug abuse problem. How about this, why don't you consider drug treatment, education, job training, and law enforcement? You know, things that may help your less fortunate, drug abusing constituents.

  • Mario

    Fine. Let’s start with the individuals at the top that are getting our tax dollars; Perdue, Green, and the rest of our elective officials. That’s right, they all get paid out of the taxes we pay, so why shouldn’t they get tested just like anybody else. . . Oh, that’s right, they’re above the rest of us. The laws they pass only apply to us, and not them.

    • Ruby

      In defense of Delagate Don Perdue and Senator Green. Both of them are doing a job that's from the heart; hearts of compassion for those suffering souls that, by the way, I doubt anone of them ever woke up one morning and said, or thought, "I think I will become addicted to alcohol or another drug today." Noone decides, I will become a diabetic today or have a heart attack because of the food I put in my mouth and never exercising. Please lets not argue the facts: Don Perdue has pledged from his heart with tears in his eyes that he might be the last man standing in the legislature pleading for funding for treatment. Tax on alcohol in WV has not been raised for more than 50 years. Substance abuse is costing this state over 1.5 Billion dollars but less than .04 cents of that amount goes to treatment. It's going to take all of us in every household in every community to educate ourselves on addiction, and to do everything we can in our homes and neighborhoods and churches to help, not just those addicted but their families as well. As I heard Del. Perdue say, "Who is anyone of us to judge another person's life as less value than anyone else's, including our own." His friend who died had a Masters degree. Many doctor's nurses, lawyers and judges, also teachers, and preachers have addictions. This desease is no respector of persons of any socioeconomic, or educational level. As for me, I don't feel powerless, and you shouldn't either. Especially when we have those in our legislature who care, and are doing those jobs that are bigger than us. They are our allies, not our enemies. Lets all do our part.