Yesterday marked West Virginia’s inaugural Summit on Prescription Drug abuse, a meeting of various government leaders to address the state’s growing prescription drug problem. The summit’s main conclusion was that efforts should not be focused on arrests and incarceration, but rather on education and legislation.
West Virginia’s prescription drug abuse problem is largely due to “doctor shopping”, the practice of visiting multiple doctors to obtain several prescriptions for the same drug. The Summit leaders proposed new legislation that would require doctors and pharmacies to work together in preventing this practice.
Additional efforts will be focused on reaching out to youth. Prescription drug abuse is currently the leading cause of death among young people in West Virginia, so outreach will focus not only on prevention but on connecting youth with drug treatment resources. Jay Smithers, Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police, states that “[This] is a social problem…and it’s a problem that if we don’t get a handle on it, it’s [going] to ruin our state’s youth, which of course is our state’s future.”