The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 11, 2013

Rahall, Rogers revive an old caucus

From staff reports


Young people are dropping dead, employers are often hard put to find “clean” workers to fill jobs, property crimes are soaring, and West Virginia’s jails and prisons are bursting at the seams with inmates.

Behind much of this scenario is a pill.

Or, more correctly, many pills that provide a chemical high and they are flowing across the state like a rain-swollen stream in the spring. In its wake, the prescription pill abuse is a public concern that that has transcended all strata of society.

Hoping to reverse the “vicious cycle” of prescription drug abuse, Rep. Nick Rahall is teaming once more with a Republican colleague to renew a congressional coalition to fight the scourge.

Serving as co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse will be Rahall, D-W.Va., and Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., who organized it four years ago.

“Every day, in southern West Virginia, news stories confront us about the vicious cycle prescription drugs wreak upon our communities: crime, child neglect, overdoses, death and whole families torn apart,” Rahall said.

Rahall acknowledged that he and Rogers are “traveling a difficult and challenging path” in seeking solutions to rampant pill misuse.

“This may be the biggest challenge of our society, and the only way this destructive trend can be reversed is if everyone — I mean everyone — gets involved.  Our nation’s future — our children’s and grandchildren’s future — hangs in the balance.”

Rogers said the pill addiction not only has impacted close-knit towns in his district but has spread across the entire nation but said he is optimistic about resolving it.

“With the help of Congressman Rahall, I am confident that solutions are within reach and that we can continue to make a difference in Washington in this battle against prescription drug abuse,” he said.

Rahall’s office provided some grim statistics about the extent of the problem.

For instance, within the past five years, emergency room visits prompted by pill abuse have doubled. Over the past decade, hospitals report a 400 percent increase in people admitted for misusing narcotic medications.

Little was known generally about the problem in southern West Virginia until merchants in small Wyoming County towns complained about addicts brazenly crushing and ingesting pills outside the doors of their businesses.

Rahall eventually engineered a special summit at Twin Falls State Park, bringing in leaders from all levels of government.

“Working with my friend, Congressman Rogers, and the commitment of our colleagues in Congress for action on a national level, our goal is to explore, develop, and expand solutions to conquer the problem of prescription drug abuse,” the 3rd District congressman said.

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