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FGCU launches free workshops to foster equity, retain workers; Supreme Court throws out race claim in SC redistricting case in win for GOP; as millions hit the roads, MI lawmakers consider extra driving fees; CT groups prepare for World Fish Migration Day.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

WV Communities Map Path for Opioid Settlement Funds

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023   

This week, Gov. Jim Justice announced five new appointments to the West Virginia First Foundation, the private foundation responsible for the statewide distribution of opioid settlement funds.

Advocates are calling for the money to be used for medication for addiction treatment and harm reduction services - such as needle exchanges, naloxone, and overdose prevention centers.

Mary Newlyn, executive director of the West Virginia Hope in Action Alliance, said expanding housing and wraparound support services for people who use drugs and people with drug-related convictions, would help stabilize communities and families.

She pointed out most substance-use disorder funding is not funneled toward those types of supports.

"Once a person has reached a state of sobriety, they need community support and access to the healthy coping techniques they obtained during treatment," Newlyn explained. "These communities are built in transitional and recovery housing."

According to the Office of Drug Control Policy there were at least 1,300 drug overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2020, a 51% increase compared to 2019. This year, there have been more than 5,000 reported EMS responses for suspected overdoses.

Tricia Christensen, director of policy for the nonprofit Community Education Group, said states should be thinking creatively about how to best use the funding to help stem the tide of substance abuse. She pointed to mental health resources, youth prevention programs and community programs focused on forging a life in recovery.

"How do we invest in our communities to really think about opportunities for kids as they're growing older?" Christensen asked. "Opportunities for those kids' parents now, right? Because we know that this is a generational issue."

The Mountain State has received an estimated $847 million from lawsuit payouts involving major pharmacy chains, drug manufacturers, drug distributors, and pharmaceutical consulting firms.This week, Gov. Jim Justice announced five new appointments to the West Virginia First Foundation, the private foundation responsible for the statewide distribution of opioid settlement funds.

Advocates are calling for the money to be used for medication for addiction treatment and harm reduction services - such as needle exchanges, naloxone, and overdose prevention centers.

Mary Newlyn, executive director of the West Virginia Hope in Action Alliance, said expanding housing and wraparound support services for people who use drugs and people with drug-related convictions, would help stabilize communities and families.

She pointed out most substance-use disorder funding is not funneled toward those types of supports.

"Once a person has reached a state of sobriety, they need community support and access to the healthy coping techniques they obtained during treatment," Newlyn explained. "These communities are built in transitional and recovery housing."

According to the Office of Drug Control Policy there were at least 1,300 drug overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2020, a 51% increase compared to 2019. This year, there have been more than 5,000 reported EMS responses for suspected overdoses.

Tricia Christensen, director of policy for the nonprofit Community Education Group, said states should be thinking creatively about how to best use the funding to help stem the tide of substance abuse. She pointed to mental health resources, youth prevention programs and community programs focused on forging a life in recovery.

"How do we invest in our communities to really think about opportunities for kids as they're growing older?" Christensen asked. "Opportunities for those kids' parents now, right? Because we know that this is a generational issue."

The Mountain State has received an estimated $847 million from lawsuit payouts involving major pharmacy chains, drug manufacturers, drug distributors, and pharmaceutical consulting firms.


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