June 05, 2018

Manchin: State DRC model should be used nationwide | Martinsburg Journal

MARTINSBURG — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin , D-W Va., said he plans to pitch West Virginia’s day report centers as models for treating opioid addicts on a national level, claiming it’s a more effective and economically efficient approach than incarceration in federal and state jails.

To that end, Manchin plans to approach the Federal Bureau of Prisons to explain that DRCs in Ranson and in Martinsburg take a holistic approach toward treating opioid addicts, with both medical and therapeutic treatment.

“If we can get the Federal Bureau of Prisons to understand that it is a much more efficient way with federal and state officials working together,” Manchin said, “why can’t we use the states like West Virginia that have gone to the front line of defense as far as drug abuse and addiction? Let’s look at what they’ve done (in West Virginia) and piggyback on it. We — West Virginia — could be the model. “

Located in counties throughout West Virginia, DRCs serve as an alternative route for nonviolent drug offenders, offering participants weeks of intensive outpatient treatment that includes individual and group counseling.

Manchin, who is seeking senate re-election, outlined his plans during an Eastern Panhandle visit Monday, stopping at the Jefferson County Day Report Center and the Anna Mae Reedy Senior Center in Ranson. He then surveyed some of the flooded areas in Kearneysville. Manchin will face Republican challenger West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the November general election.

Jefferson County’s DRC, at 121 W. Third St., opened in October 2015. Berkeley County’s DRC opened in August 2016. Morgan County plans to open a DRC in Berkeley Springs later this year.

“A comprehensive approach is where the federal government should be going,” Manchin said. “The federal government doesn’t have a program like this — they don’t have a Day Report Center that I know of. It’s more cost effective for the federal government to try different things here to see if it works, and then take it to a national level — this is the place to do it.

“I’d like to say to them, ‘I want you to go over to Ranson and see what we have here in Jefferson County and how it would best benefit society as a whole, but also benefit the prison system and the prisoner addicts who are coming out,'” Manchin said. “This is an illness … If it is an illness, you’ve got to have treatment. These are models to be used, and should be.”

“Jefferson’s DRC is taking a holistic approach, from showing the brain scans to show how it is affecting addicts, to Vivitrol administration to on-staff psychologists,” Manchin said. “They are giving them the complete treatment. This is the best that I have seen in the state.”

Vivitrol is a brand name for naltrexone, a prescription medicine used to help people maintain abstinence while recovering from opioid or alcohol dependence.

Manchin said any strategy to treating the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic should be to treat it as an illness.

“If we are going to be successful and try to get people back into a productive lifestyle, you have to offer the best treatment centers,” Manchin said. “You just can’t go through the motions. If anyone is severely addicted, they’re going to need serious help, and that is going to take a 12-month program.”

Manchin also said he’s pushing to bolster national efforts to protect children growing up in addicted households.

“What we’re seeing now is unlike anything we have ever seen,” Manchin told a roomful of senior citizens at the Anna Mae Reedy Senior Center. “Children being in addictive homes and abusive homes where they’re not being treated right. We’ve got to make sure that we help these children to get into a safe place. There were people in that (Jefferson County) DRC room today that have had their children taken away from them. Thank God that they have biological grandparents that stepped in until they can get back in shape.”

By:  Jim McConville