The West Virginia Attorney General's Office collaborates with various agencies and entities in our State to eliminate the substance abuse epidemic. We recognize that community partnerships are critical to easing drug addiction's grip on West Virginia.
In August 2016, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine endorsed the Attorney General’s strategy to reduce usage of dangerous prescription painkillers and adopted his best practices for use at the school’s Robert C. Byrd Clinic.
Dr. Michael D. Adelman, president of the state’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, which is recognized as the nation’s leader in rural primary care and ranked as the No. 12 medical school for family medicine, endorsed the Attorney General’s best practices and indicated they “have the ability to turn the tide” against opioid abuse and addiction in West Virginia.
The Attorney General and West Virginia University’s School of Medicine announced a collaborative, multi-faceted approach to reduce prescription painkiller abuse in the Mountain State.
The collaboration will focus upon ways to equip prescribers and patients with the knowledge everyone needs to drastically reduce the use of opioid painkillers while preserving legitimate patient access to necessary treatment.
In 2014, The Attorney General's Office launched the DRoP (Dispose Responsibly of Prescriptions) program. The DRoP program aims to provide permanent drug drop boxes to every county in West Virginia. The DRoP program facilitates the safe disposal of prescription drugs in collaboration with the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission and its Department of Health and Human Resources, along with the West Virginia Medical Association. Together with the Attorney General's Office, these organizations share the goal of creating healthier West Virginia communities by proactively fighting prescription drug abuse. Through this program, the our office hopes to collect unwanted or unused controlled substances to decrease the rate of prescription drug abuse and addiction in West Virginia.
All law enforcement agencies are invited to apply to the program to receive a permanent drug drop box. A committee, representing each of the partnership organizations, will meet, review the applications, and vote to award agencies with permanent drug drop collection boxes at approved sites.
The Attorney General's Office recently joined with United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II in cross-designating two attorneys from his office to help U.S. Attorney Bill Powell prosecute drug trafficking across northern West Virginia, including areas of Clarksburg, Wheeling, Morgantown, and Martinsburg. This effort offers increased flexibility to identify and respond to drug traffickers, while offering a collaborative atmosphere for training to aid in the prosecution of dealers and those whose drugs cause overdoses. This partnership is a first of its kind, and it also will enhance prevention and youth education initiatives already underway statewide.
Our office has an investigator designated as a law enforcement liaison. She performs weekly work at the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center (WVIFC). A fusion center is a joint effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the ultimate goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal activity. Our office recognizes the importance of information sharing among agencies and entities in order to protect our communities. To continue to support information sharing efforts, representatives from our office also attend monthly law enforcement intelligence meetings across the State.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office is a partner in the West Virginia Alliance for Drug Endangered Children task force. Drug endangered children are children suffering physical or psychological harm or neglect due to being exposed to an environment where adults are manufacturing, selling, or using illicit drugs. Drug endangered children are exposed to a wide variety of harms including injury from an explosion, fire, or exposure to toxic chemicals found at clandestine methamphetamine lab sites; physical abuse; sexual abuse; medical neglect; and lack of basic care and necessities, including food, shelter, and education.
Drug endangered children are part of a large population of children not only in our state, but across the nation. Fortunately, as a result of the Drug Endangered Children program, thousands of children have been rescued from drug environments. It is every West Virginian’s responsibility to report suspected instances of drug endangered children to law enforcement. All citizens need to be proactive to end the cycle of drug abuse in West Virginia.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office joined with the City of Charleston and other committed cross sector-partners on a steering committee to enhance and deliver the city’s unique Drug Market Intervention (DMI), “Second Chance” project. The DMI project works to effectively eliminate overt drug markets by bringing together community leaders, law enforcement, and service providers with street level drug dealers and their families to make it clear that the dealing must stop. It works to change neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity thus improving life for residents of the community and surrounding areas, and strengthening relationships between law enforcement and residents.
The Attorney General serves on the Substance Abuse Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”).
The mission of the Substance Abuse Committee is “to make our country safer and healthier by dramatically decreasing drug abuse through policy analysis, research, police operations, education and drug treatment.” The Substance Abuse Committee works with law enforcement, prosecutors, community leaders, and other entities to identify developing trends and combat substance abuse through coordinated efforts.
The Attorney General collaborates with other attorneys general not only through the Substance Abuse Committee, but through other important substance abuse matters. For example, on January 14, 2016, Attorney General Morrisey joined a bipartisan coalition, consisting of 36 states and the District of Columbia, in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly adopt proposed guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers. He and a bipartisan group of attorneys general believe the CDC’s guidelines provide additional guidance to doctors to better evaluate the potential benefit and harm of prescribing opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
View a copy of the letter here.
In June 2017, the Attorney General unveiled “Combating Addiction with Grace,” a faith-based initiative aimed at empowering religious groups across West Virginia in the fight against substance abuse. It involves conferences held across the state.The initiative connects faith leaders with law enforcement, first responders, residential treatment and local substance abuse groups among others. It was inspired by the Attorney General’s successful partnership with his counterpart from Ohio in 2016.
The West Virginia Attorney General's Office, in coordination with the state’s Board of Pharmacy, launched cutting-edge technology to help prescribers and pharmacists reduce opioid overprescription in the Mountain State.
The tool, a morphine equivalency calculator, analyzes opioid drugs prescribed to a patient and converts dosage amounts to a standard, comparable measurement. It provides quick access to the combined potency of the patient’s existing prescriptions and the impact of any new medication.
The calculator uses conversion factors and formulas published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to aggregate that data and convert it to a morphine milligram equivalent known as a patient score. This promises to streamline the process and provide ease of use not previously available, while achieving a higher level of accuracy and consistency in results.
The information is valuable in detecting prescription abuse, overuse and potentially preventing countless life-threatening drug overdoses.
Opioid Use in High School AthleticsThe West Virginia Attorney General's Office teamed up with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, West Virginia Board of Medicine and the West Virginia Physical Therapy Association, among other groups to tackle opioid use in high school athletics.
A University of Michigan study found 21 percent of male athletes and 14 percent of female athletes will suffer a sports-related injury in a given year. It also concluded that adolescent male athletes are twice as likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers and four times more likely to abuse the pills than non-athletes.
The Attorney General and his partners worry the unnecessary usage of opioid painkillers to treat athletic injuries could lead to increased dependence, abuse and addiction. In fact, a New York University study found, “three-quarters of high school heroin users started with a prescription opioid.”
This initiative will push other forms of pain management. Alternatives include physical therapy, non-opioid painkillers, acupuncture, massage therapy and over-the-counter medication.
The initiative will feature a mix of educational fliers, public service announcements and speaking events statewide.
WVSSAC High School Opioids Handout : Developed for distribution to every parent/guardian who completes the WVSSAC consent form for high school athletics