HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell and Chairman of the House of Delegates’ Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, today said he would like to see more state funds going to programs targeting substance abuse prevention and preventative services.
“Much like we had comprehensive programs and public relations campaigns targeting the prevention of tobacco use, we need to start using more resources to help prevent substance abuse and eliminate the demand of these drugs in the first place,” Chairman Rohrbach said.
Chairman Rohrbach’s comments come after he and a bipartisan coalition of delegates sent a letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asking his office to hold all funds it is to receive from the recent McKesson Corporation drug settlement so those monies may be appropriated by the Legislature for use to combat the state’s drug epidemic.
Chairman Rohrbach said it’s important the Legislature appropriates settlement funds so that legislators can debate and work with state agencies to ensure the funds are used where they can have the greatest effect.
“As Chairman of the Substance Abuse Committee, we’re going to be working in the next year to ensure we’re targeting funds not only on recovery but preventative services as well,” Chairman Rohrbach said. “That’s going to be a big focus going forward.
“We’ve made great strides in recent years to combat our state’s substance abuse epidemic, and we’re starting to see the tide turn,” Chairman Rohrbach said. “While law enforcement and recovery efforts are going to be a priority, we need to start putting a greater emphasis on prevention to ensure people avoid addiction in the first place.”
In 2017, the Legislature created the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund to allocate resources for addiction prevention and recovery. That year the Legislature also passed House Bill 2195, which required county school boards to implement comprehensive drug awareness and prevention programs for all students from kindergarten through high school.
Chairman Rohrbach said he wants to continue to build on these efforts.
“It’s crucial that we have every tool available to continue to combat this horrible epidemic,” Chairman Rohrbach said. “It’s my hope we can continue creating new, innovative programs that will not only help people break the cycle of addiction, but prevent them from falling into it in the first place.”