West Virginia Bill Template For Other States

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Substance abuse treatment in Florida, along with the rest of the country, faces many hurdles, especially with regards to access. The demand for south Florida drug rehab often outstrips the supply and more often, due to how it’s funded, is out of financial reach for many people.

The opioid crisis in particular has hit West Virginia especially hard. Not only is their overdose of fentanyl among the highest in the country, their geographical makeup and low income offers exceptional barriers which prevents a lot of treatment options from being available to people. In an attempt to address these issues, their state senate drafted and passed a bill which may become a possible template for other states like Florida to follow, which expands the reach of services like residential detox.

According the West Virginia Gazette Mail, the bill was ‘drafted with help from Huntington officials and the Association of Recovery Residences…and [supported by the city of Charleston]”, according to committee chairman Senator Mike Maroney, a Republican representative from the city of Marshall.

Since the opioid epidemic, many halfway homes and residential detox centers have begun operating, with communities trying to help themselves where the government would not or could not. The bill opened up the ability for those operating houses to help people suffering from substance use disorders to be inspected by state agencies and fast-tracked to approval for operation in an effort to combat the state’s exceptional numbers of people overdosing on opioids and other addictive substances.

Huntington City Attorney Scott Damron told the Recovery Committee flatly, “We believe [the bill] will save some lives.”

The situation with the operating but uncertified facilities is that they are essentially out of the referral system of the state. If someone is, say, arrested for possession of heroin, the non-certified treatment houses which may be closer and more accessible either by distance or price, are simply not suggested or looked at by the state as a possible course of action for their recovery. The hope here is that by allowing the lesser houses to be inspected and then certified will create more supply of treatment facilities and thus have a reduction on both the amount of people suffering from addiction in the state as well as lowering the numbers of people dying from overdose. In 2018, overdose deaths in the country outnumbered automobile accident fatalities for the first time in American history. This number is even more incredible when considering that the ratio of drivers to drug and alcohol use is about 1:1000.

States all over the country are taking action where the federal government is still determining the best course of action to deal with the crisis. When a state succeeds in any way, it can help other states formulate a working plan for their own citizens with a case study that backs up the reasoning and path to the results they want.

Substance use disorder is a serious condition that requires professional treatment for success in breaking the cycle of addiction. Call First Step Behavioral Health for more information on treatment options for you or someone you care about at (866) 971-5531.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.