U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) met in Morgantown this week to talk about the economic and social effects of drug addiction – opioid addiction especially.
Director Botticelli says throughout the nation, younger people in suburbs and rural areas are finding themselves addicted opioids.
“Which really challenges us," Botticelli said. "Sometimes these people are very isolated, they might not have immediate access to treatment programs. So I think we have to think differently not only as a nation but as communities about what kind if infrastructure we have in place, how we reach out to these really isolated people and communities and make sure that we’re engaging them in care.”
Botticelli said one compelling detail that surfaced during the roundtable in Morgantown came from local economists who discussed how area businesses are finding it difficult to hire people who can pass a drug screen.
“If you can’t pass the initial drug screen, your entry into the job market is pretty much shot," Capito said, "and so it just adds to the despair and your own self destruction.”
Neither Capito nor Botticelli talked too much about why so many young people are self-destructing except to say that prescription pills are still too easy to access. They did discuss efforts to expand evidence-based public health and public safety approaches to reduce drug use and its consequences.