June 19, 2024

Funds from opioid lawsuit settlement making their way to West Virginia communities

MORGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (DC News Now) — After months of negotiations, local communities are starting to see funding from a nationwide lawsuit against drug makers and retailers to help address the opioid crisis.

Morgan County, W.Va. is hoping to see success in fighting the drug epidemic. It will receive $1.5 million in an initial round of funding for treatment and prevention.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was the lead negotiator in the legal settlement with major drug chains.

At Hope House, a nonprofit in Berkeley Springs, help cannot come soon enough.

“You’re coming down off drugs,” said Alison Johnson. “Right there, that’s hard. I mean, to watch folks, they go through so much pain.”

Morgan County Commission President Sean Forney said allocating the funds will be a careful process to help law enforcement, treatment centers and recovery programs.

At Hope House, Patricia Essama is on the front lines.

“They can bring them in here 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Essama. “And if we can’t help them we find other avenues of assistance, whether it’s rehab, hospital, whatever they need.”

Though localities will have broad discretion over the money, the state auditor is playing a watchdog role to assure funds are being put to the most effective use through a system of checks and balances and oversight.

“The more funds available, the more programs that can be made available for those fighting substance abuse.”

A top priority for localities is the distribution of Naloxone to reverse overdoses.

The statewide nonprofit, West Virginia First Foundation, will advise on the distribution of funds. The largest recipients of funds are the cities of Charleston, Huntington and Raleigh County in southern West Virginia.

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