CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Residents of Harrison, Marion and Monongalia Counties now have a multifaceted plan to address drug abuse and misuse in the region.
U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld’s office organized a community meeting Thursday night at Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg to introduce North Central West Virginia’s Action Addiction Plan.
“We’re tying to identify things that we can achieve and not things that might require a huge influx of money or something that’s unrealistic that we would just put on paper and not actually accomplish,” he said.
The plan was developed based on areas including prevention, education, recovery, media, law enforcement, business and legislation and medical.
A subcommittee was created for each area and the leader of each committee presented what they wanted to contribute at the meeting.
Development of the plan has been a long process, but Ihlenfeld believes those leading the subcommittees have gone above and beyond to come up with creative and innovative solutions.
“These people are working 12 hour days,” Ihlenfeld said. “They’ve got to do their day job, work their 8 to 10 hours and then help us with the planning that it’s taken to put this into place. They’ve been fantastic to work with.”
Some of the ideas presented at Thursday’s meeting included development of evidence-based youth empowerment programs, increasing visibility and utilization of recovery resources, presenting a “Good Samaritan” bill in the upcoming legislative session and monitoring prescription trends in the medical community.
The plan is far from complete as each subcommittee will go forth and put their ideas into action, but will return as a group to present their progress to the public and make adjustments.
“We will do a follow-up report to the community. We want to be held accountable to the community for this plan,” he said. “In four to six months, we don’t have a precise date, we will come back in a setting like this and talk about what else we’ve accomplished and what the next step is.”
The North Central Addiction Action Plan shares similar themes with a plan developed in the Ohio Valley, but remains unique to the area in its implementation.
For this reason, Ihlenfeld believes regional plans are a better way to address drug abuse as opposed to a district-wide plan.
“Part of the advantage of doing it regionally is that you have people that actually live right here in North Central West Virginia who are more passionate about where they live, their neighborhood, their schools and where their kids go to school then maybe they would about another part of the state, and that’s just human nature,” he said. “Not that we all don’t care about all of West Virginia but I think by localizing it, you get more buy in.”
The community will be able to take a look at the plan all together after the U.S. Attorney’s Office compiles the committee reports and posts it online.