CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The mother of Ryan Brown, a Charleston man who died from a heroin overdose in 2014, says it’s “bittersweet” that funding is being provided to substance abuse programs in West Virginia in an effort to combat the drug epidemic.

“I’m really excited that we’re going to have new treatment beds coming and resources, so people can access treatment much more quickly to keep people from being on wait lists,” Cece Brown told MetroNews.


Ryan Brown of Charleston died of a heroin overdose and his parents have been working ever since to help others with addiction.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources announced Monday $20.8 million will be provided to nine drug addiction programs in West Virginia through the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund.

The fund was created under a new law passed earlier this year that is meant to assist in the allocation of additional treatments beds in the state.

Ryan Brown died of a heroin overdose at the Charleston Town Center Mall in April 2014. Since his death, Cece Brown has been on a personal mission to raise awareness about addiction and help lobby for legislation at both the state and federal level.

“The only reason I allowed them to use my son’s name on it is because I wanted to put a face to the numbers because that’s really important,” Brown said. “I want people to understand that it can happen to anybody.”

Before Ryan died, he went through three detox only programs and was on the waiting list for two long term programs. The law focuses on funding for people who may not have private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Brown said getting additional treatment beds is just one aspect of tackling the drug issue. She said sober living homes are also needed for people to recover from addiction.

“This can’t be the only thing because there are so many other things than we need to do. My message hasn’t changed that we need resources — not just short term, but long term,” she said.

The unique part of the fund is that people can offer donations, Brown said.

“It can accommodate donations, which is not like other funds, so I’m hoping that the next step is we can actually get some donations,” she said.