For those on the outside looking in, it can be easy to form stereotypes about individuals struggling with drug problems. Today’s current opioid epidemic has, however, revealed the shocking reality that countless Americans suffer from addictions — no matter the age, gender, profession or location. West Virginia is no exception to this crisis, and in fact is home to one of the areas suffering from heroin addictions the most.
Penalties that surround drug charges can be so severe that an individual can slip even further into an ongoing issue. Recently, lawmakers and advocates alike have considered the ways the nation deals with drug arrests, addictions and recovery programs.
Just last month, The Register-Herald announced the latest efforts of West Virginia’s new Office of Drug Control Policy director. According to the Herald, director Dr. Michael Brumage asserts that past traumatic experiences — especially those in childhood — can have a significant impact on one’s vulnerability to opioid addiction. Currently, Brumage’s efforts revolve around drug prevention, early intervention, reversal of overdoses, supporting addiction-stricken families, treatment and recovery. The epidemic may be crippling the area, but the new director remains hopeful in these current efforts.
Nonprofit organization Reveal shared last year that private diversion programs may not be as effective as once thought. While the needs of those coping with opioid addictions can depend on the case, those facing smaller drug charges can end up with a world of fees and legal commitments. Having gained traction in the 1970s, diversion programs have recently fallen under close scrutiny; their effectiveness is often overshadowed by a potentially corrupt private profit among law enforcement officers and court systems. Individuals can face many complications when, for example, applying for jobs after a minor drug charge with a mandatory program involvement. As for those who actually need help with overcoming addiction, these programs may have a long way to go.