BECKLEY - West Virginia is no stranger to illegal drug use and abuse. The question is; what are federal, state and local officials doing to solve this problem? Part 1 of the series "Kicking Our Fix,” begins with an interview from a familiar face in Washington; Representative Nick Rahall.
Rahall has been very active in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program, known as HIDTA. For the counties affected, federal funding flows into the state in order to combat this problem through law enforcement agencies… a problem that many refer to as an epidemic.
Wyoming and Raleigh Counties have been designated as part of the Appalachian HIDTA, which is good and bad news for the Southern part of West Virginia. While these areas are prone to drug trafficking, the Federal Government is working to aid local officials.
"That's the purpose of HIDTA, is to get federal resources into areas of high intensity drug trafficking," said Rahall. Trying to fight against drug related crime from Washington, Rahall said an increase in prevention efforts would be the most effective way to help the cause, even from an economic standpoint.
"We have to work together to really combat this scourge that is affecting our area. It's affects our businesses, it takes a tremendous toll upon our tax payers, it costs more in the long run to treat drug addiction than it would to make effective prevention efforts in the early stages so prevention is crucial ... And, let's not forget the most important role is that of the home, of the family, of the parents. Our educators do a great job in the schools, they're important too, but it all begins in the home; teaching children at a young age what to stay away from,” said Rahall.
Knowing where the toughest battles are being fought, Rahall acknowledged the dedication of local authorities: "I have to highly commend our law enforcement. God bless em, they're our there every day. They just need the tools with which to more effectively do their jobs and they've dedicated their lives to protecting and serving our people."
Steps in the right direction are what Rahall said is being reported from the Nation’s capital when it comes to issues dealing with prescription pills, heroin and Methamphetamine. "My meeting in Washington with West Virginia HIDTA officials confirmed that there is positive occurring," said Rahall.
Federal officials said they will not stop fighting against drug related crime, and even hope to save lives that may be lost to future overdoses. "Are we there yet? Not by any stretch of the imagination. But just like so many wars we have, we have to keep doing a better job and we will,” said Rahall.