Community Leaders Unveil Action Plan To Combat Drug Abuse
1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Tara Tighe, Public Affairs Specialist
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Community leaders in Northern West Virginia have embraced an innovative, collaborative approach to combat drug abuse and overdose deaths in the region, First Judicial Circuit Judge David J. Sims and United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced today.
A diverse group of local thought leaders gathered at Wheeling Hospital today to present the Ohio Valley Addiction Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy designed to address a growing drug problem. According to Ihlenfeld, the plan is “unique because it combines expertise from education, law enforcement, healthcare, news media, business, legislative, treatment, and recovery.”
U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld and Judge Sims served as Co-Chairs of a working group that has been meeting since August 2014. The working group incorporated eight subcommittees, led by the following individuals:
• Dr. Angelo Georges, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Wheeling Hospital: Medical Subcommittee,
• Dr. Dianna Vargo, Superintendent, Ohio County Schools: Education Subcommittee,
• Erikka Storch, W.Va. House of Delegates: Business & Legislation Subcommittee,
• Sheriff Chuck Jackson, Brooke County Sheriff’s Department: Law Enforcement Subcommittee,
• Mark A. Games, President/CEO, Northwood Health Systems: Mental Health/Substance Abuse Treatment Subcommittee,
• Terry Stemple, Chief Executive Officer, Healthways, Inc.: Mental Health/Substance Abuse Treatment Subcommittee,
• James Lee, Retired Chief Probation Officer, First Judicial Circuit: Community Corrections Subcommittee,
• Brenda Danehart, News Director, WTRF: News Media Subcommittee;
• Patti Barnabei, Founder, Never Alone West Virginia: Support Groups Subcommittee
“The number of Ohio Valley residents abusing heroin and other opioid drugs is staggering,” said U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld. “This is not simply a law enforcement problem; we are facing a true public health crisis. Our plan starts with more impactful education that will resonate with our young people. But we also need to engage the community at all levels to choke off the supply of heroin, to prevent people from abusing opioid drugs, and to ultimately build an adequate infrastructure to treat individuals that do become addicted.”
Per Ihlenfeld, the plan presented today, which targets Ohio, Brooke, and Hancock Counties, is merely the first step in a much larger initiative. Ihlenfeld plans to create similar working groups throughout Northern West Virginia.
Anyone interested in additional information on the effort to combat drug abuse is encouraged to contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia at (304) 234-0100. Continuing updates will also be available through the U.S. Attorney’s official Twitter page @NDWVnews.
A complete copy of the Ohio Valley Addiction Action Plan is available here.