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.