Are drugs destroying West Virginia? This past week, one U.S. Congresswoman from the Mountain State hinted that they may be — stating that methamphetamine is posing a “grave danger” to the state’s communities.
Last week, U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced that the State of West Virginia will receive $1 million in grant funding to combat the making and distribution of methamphetamine in the Mountain State.
Of the ten states receiving funding through the federal initiative, which aims to combat the use of meth, West Virginia was the only state whose funding peaked into the seven-digit range — accentuating the level of desperation felt by many in this problematic fight. The funds will be used by state law enforcement agencies to assist them in responding to the manufacture and distribution of meth.
“Meth use and manufacturing pose a grave danger to our communities,” Rep. Capito said, adding, “and our local law enforcement officials have worked diligently to fight the spread of meth.”
In recent years, many throughout the nation have taken notice of what can only be described as rampant drug use throughout the Appalachians. Tyler Durden, who wrote a commentary piece on modern-day Appalachia, blamed the widespread drug addiction problem, felt especially strong in West Virginia, on the state’s failing economy.
“In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to ‘escape’ for a little while,” said Durden, who went on to quote an account provided by Chris Hedges of his time along the Tug River in West Virginia:
“Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as ‘the crazy check’ — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“’They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,’ the nurse says. ‘They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.’
“The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold ‘pharm parties,’ in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.”
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