CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force is prepared for another round of public meetings across the state this week. The first one takes place Monday morning in Martinsburg at the Berkeley County DHHR office.

The task force was created 18 months ago to address substance abuse problems impacting six regions across the state. In southern West Virginia, prescription pills are still the drug of choice. In Kanawha County, meth remains the problem. In the northern part of the state, heroin is becoming more popular.

Kathy Paxton, the director of Substance Abuse Services Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, explained they’ll hold meetings in every region of the state this week and they urge community participation.

“We try to look at the needs of each of those very distinct regions. (We) bring those back, those recommendations and those needs, to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse,” Paxton said.

This is the 13th round of regional meetings the task force has held over the last year and a half. Each region consists of several counties. Because problems vary from county to county, they try to hold their meetings in different areas of the region each time.

The meetings draw more than just concerned citizens there’s also law enforcement, doctors, treatment providers and recovering addicts. Paxton said they also see families in crisis.

“Folks who are experiencing substance abuse problems for the first time in their families, they don’t know how to navigate the system. They don’t know how to access care. There may be available services in their region and they’re going to meet someone there who provides that,” stressed Paxton.

All the comments, concerns and complaints the task force hears during the meetings will go directly back to the Tomblin administration. While Paxton said what they learn from the meetings is vital, it takes time to make changes.

“We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we’re not going to see all the results we need immediately,” according to Paxton.

Here’s a list of those public hearings set for this week:

Region 1 (Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel counties): June 18, 10 a.m. to noon, Ohio County DHHR, 69 16th St., Wheeling.

Region 2 (Pendleton, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Jefferson and Berkeley counties): June 16, 10 a.m. to noon, Berkeley County DHHR Office, 433 Mid-Atlantic Park, Martinsburg.

Region 3 (Tyler, Pleasants, Wood, Ritchie, Jackson, Wirt, Roane, Calhoun counties): June 18, 6 to 8 p.m., Wood County DHHR, 400 5th St., Parkersburg.

Region 4 (Monongalia, Preston, Marion, Doddridge, Harrison, Taylor, Barbour, Tucker, Gilmer, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, Braxton): June 17, 6 to 8 p.m., Gaston Caperton Center, 501 West Main St., Clarksburg.

Region 5 (Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Clay, Cabell, Wayne, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln, Boone): June 19, 10 a.m. to noon, Prestera Center (Hansen Hall), 5600 U.S. 60, East Huntington.

Region 6 (Webster, Pocahontas, Nicholas, Fayette, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, Wyoming, Mercer, McDowell): June 19, 6 to 8 p.m., Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center (Room A), 200 Armory Drive, Beckley.

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  • wvredhead

    Meetings aren't doing squat. The problem needs addressed NOW. Just fodder for politicians to get press time.

  • long drive

    It would take me over 2 hours to get to Beckley from Pocahontas Co. I do not think we are wanted there!!

  • Bob

    Just think, our Bridgeport mayor was a contributor to this problem. Let me see someone defend him now.

  • Bill

    Why should the taxpayer have to fund treatment for some dope head.

    • Aaron

      It's not a question of why, it is that we are, in many ways. It is better to provide treatment for many of these individuals than the plethora of other charges that include jail time, social benefits and other entitlements they currently receive. The only other option is to execute them on site. Do you endorse that action?

    • Some dope head

      So "some dope head" isn't breaking into your home or car while you sleep to obtain means to buy more dope.

      So "some dope head" isn't being repeatedly incarcerated and run through the judicial system at far greater expense to the taxpayer.

      So "some dope head" isn't behind the wheel of a vehicle that kills a member of our community or our family.

      Punishment for crimes and treatment for addiction should go hand-in-hand.

      • GregG

        High limb and a short rope would be cheaper on the tax payer.

  • dana

    Absolutely correct, Aaron. Sadly, there is little mention of opening additional treatment facilities. Day report centers have a role, but basic inhouse extended treatment is essential.

  • Aaron

    They can have all the meetings they want but until they do something about treatment, the state is not truly addressing the problem. If an addict wishes to seek treatment, they must essentially leave the state as there are but a few inpatient treatment facilities. Sadly many of those addicts who do leave the state do so at West Virginia tax payer expense. Perhaps one of these meeting could be utilized in increasing the number of treatment centers. There is infrastructure in many places that could be used but not the commitment to treat our citizens.