BECKLEY (AP) — West Virginia will devote $7.5 million to help set up and expand substance abuse support services around the state, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday.
Speaking at a drug treatment center for mothers in Beckley, Tomblin said the funding underscores the need to invest more resource toward prevention, early intervention and recovery program.
The Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and six regional task forces earlier this year advised funding local, regional and statewide service programs as part of a comprehensive plan to address drug abuse in West Virginia.
Officials say the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will solicit bids to establish and expand services in the coming months.
The funding increase follows wide-ranging legislation enacted earlier this year targeting various abused substances, including methamphetamine and prescription pain drugs. Lawmakers had also debated ways to bolster treatment and prevention efforts.
West Virginia suffers the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate, with most of those cases involving prescription drugs, according to federal figures. Substance abuse plays a role in around 19 percent of state births, affecting 3,800 babies annually, health officials say.
Those applauding Thursday’s announcement included House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue.
“It is daybreak in West Virginia after the long night substance abuse has visited upon us so tragically,” said Perdue, D-Wayne and a pharmacist. “It is still early and the fog has to be driven away, but Gov. Tomblin has opened the door for $7.5 million worth of sunshine.”