As West Virginia enters the next phase of confronting the opioid abuse crisis—helping people get their lives back and healing family and community life—a bill that can help is now in front of the WV Legislature.
House Bill 146, which unanimously passed the West Virginia House of Delegates last week, would allow money for recovery treatment to go to more than just licensed medical facilities that offer addiction treatments like medication and therapy.
This could be a big step in helping West Virginians help themselves. West Virginia is earning a lot of settlement money—so-called “Ryan Brown” funding—from lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors, according to a June 22, 2019 Beckley Register-Herald article.
Under the bill, some of that money could go to peer-led facilities, where recovering addicts help other addicts to recover. Working with a person who is in recovery themselves can be a powerful incentive to inspire someone to get off opioids.
The bill would allow funding for the first time to go to transitional living homes, sober living homes and recovery residences. Recovery Point is one such well-known name in West Virginia, but many are smaller and their approaches and helpfulness vary, the story notes.
The bill would also bring much-needed oversight to sober living facilities, which have sprung up across the state.
Kim Miller, an addiction treatment specialist with mental health and addiction treatment provider Prestera, said that as many West Virginians have entered recovery, sober living homes have sprouted up across the state, but they lack federal or state oversight.
"There are recovery residences that are really profiteering off the addiction problem in West Virginia. There are people making money on individuals with disadvantages and whose families are willing to pay."
If the bill passes, peer-led facilities newly eligible for Ryan Brown funding would need to follow National Alliance for Recovery Residences standards—a good thing.
Delegate Tim Miley, D-Harrison, deserves credit for looking out for families swamped by the opioid abuse crisis. If your family or community has been affected, spread the word and raise your voice in support of this legislation.