CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is applauding drug recovery efforts in the Mountain State.
Carson toured Recovery Point, a drug rehab center in Charleston Monday, where he told staff members he admired their efforts to curb the opioid epidemic.
“These are excellent examples of what can be done when people are willing to reach out to other people,” Carson said. “I was just incredibly impressed with what was going so far here in West Virginia.”
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The secretary was joined by Second District Congressman Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The visit to West Virginia was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to understand the opioid crisis.
Jenkins said the state is at the center of the epidemic, but notes great strides are being made to get people into recovery.
“While we often times are labeled as ground zero for the wrong reasons, we are literally ground zero for all the right reasons,” he said.
West Virginia has received national attention because of the high number of overdose death rates in the state. Carson is one of several cabinet members to see first-hand what services are being provided.
“We’ve had such incredible attention from this administration — the secretaries, the cabinet representatives — who’ve come to West Virginia to not only see what we’re doing, but also holding us out as best practice examples,” Jenkins said.
Carson, during remarks outside Recovery Point, said other states can learn from what’s being done in West Virginia.
“When I look at the people here with this program, I look at the incredible results here. This is what we, at the government level, need to be looking at — who is getting results? Not tradition or what has been done, but who is actually getting results and how we are elevating our people,” he said.
Many staff members at Recovery Point are recovering addicts themselves, Senator Manchin pointed out.
“This staff basically is made up of people who have had challenges in life who could’ve gone a different direction if you hadn’t found Recovery Point, so we want you to speak out. We want you to work together to try to help other people,” Manchin said.
Congressman Mooney introduced three of his interns to Secretary Carson during the Monday visit. The interns are with Recovery Point.
“My own many ways of helping, the one extra thing I’ve done through my staff is offer internship programs to Recovery Point folks who are coming out of recovery. I actually have three interns right now in my district office getting the job skills, the training and the references they’re going to need to renter the workforce,” Mooney said.
Carson said the entire nation needs to realize the importance of wrap around services in order to truly get people back on their feet.
“Our citizens are our most precious resources and we have to treat them like that,” he said. “We can’t just turn our head and say that’s they’re problem. It’s all of our problem.”