Columns/Opinion, Community Advisory Board

Drug treatment options need a long-term focus

By Stephanie Nethken

The drug epidemic in this state is at epic proportions. As a criminal defense attorney, I have reached the conclusion that most criminal behavior stems from drug addiction.
As drug addiction rises so does the crime rate. These people who suffer from addiction need resources to stay drug free.
Addiction is hard to overcome on your own without help. It can take months or even years to be fully stable enough to fight off the cravings of addiction. I found there are limited options when it comes to long-term treatment facilities in Monongalia County.

Morgantown is one of the fastest growing cities in West Virginia. But yet, we do not have a long-term treatment center to combat the growing addiction problem.
The Monongalia County Drug Court Program is an excellent resource for people facing legal dilemmas fueled by drug addiction. But there are also certain factors that need to be present in order for you to be accepted into Drug Court.
And there are also certain criminal behaviors that exclude you from being accepted. There is also outpatient treatment centers and programs that utilize medications such as Subutex and Suboxen to help people tame their addictions. However, there is no long-term inpatient treatment center in Monongalia County.

Monongalia County residents would benefit from having a six to 18-month residential treatment facility. There are inpatient treatment centers that are close to Monongalia County that are 28- to 90-day treatment facilities.
However, drug addiction recovery is a life-long commitment, and after these short-lived stays in rehab, addicts are likely to return to using because once they are released they are on their own.
A longer-term treatment facility would allow for more therapy and more focus on how to stay drug free after release.
There should also be a time period after release that would include outpatient treatment for a certain period of time to ensure the person is staying on the right path.
A longer-term facility would remove negative influences from a person’s life and give them the physical and psychological support they need to succeed. These facilities are structured and allow for self-reflection and self-focus. All of these elements are essential to the path of recovery.

Drug addiction affects everyone in the community. Whether you have a family member who is addicted or you were a victim of a crime that was caused by someone’s addiction, you are affected.
That is why it is so important for Monongalia County to build and staff a long-term treatment facility. Statistics show that people who attend longer-term treatment facilities have much higher success rate of staying clean and sober than individuals who attend short-term residential treatment facilities.
We need to stay ahead of the problem before the problem becomes much worse than it already is.
STEPHANIE NETHKEN is a member of The Dominion Post’s Community Advisory Board.