Day 2 of the White House Drug Czar’s visit to West Virginia
CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – Wednesday marked the second day of White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta’s visit to West Virginia, where he discusses the national strategy for the epidemic of overdose.
The former West Virginia health worker has participated in several events in Charleston, including a roundtable discussion at Charleston City Hall with local law enforcement.
“Recognizing the need for law enforcement to come out and do the law enforcement side as we look at the healing side and the prevention side, both are needed,” said Charleston Police Chief, Tyke Hunt.
Gupta also attended a recovery-focused event with the Appalachian Regional Commission at the Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Gupta says a major problem in addiction treatment is the lack of service options, and they work to ensure that anyone who needs or wants treatment can get it.
“We’ve made significant progress over the last year and a half in terms of getting more telehealth and more on-the-go medications,” he said.
Gupta says he hopes Congress will approve additional funding for harm reduction efforts.
“President Biden has proposed a budget that has a historic and unprecedented funding increase,” he said. “His drug budget requested a $3.2 billion increase from a base budget of $40 billion. The reason it does that is that 75 cents of every dollar of that increase goes to prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Gupta says he thinks there are new approaches he can learn from here and offer when he returns to Washington.
“There are a lot of things West Virginia does that could be considered national role models,” he said. “We are really looking at that right now. We work closely with state leaders to see what works, and make sure to talk about it and expand what works to move every county across the state and country forward.
Gupta will spend part of his visit Thursday doing a ride with a Rapid Response Team in Huntington.
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