May 25, 2017

Manchin Leads Colleagues in Discussion of Opioid Epidemic on the Senate Floor

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) lead Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle in a discussion on the Senate floor today to discuss the impact the opioid epidemic is having across America and how the Senate can work together to stop it. Senator Manchin read a letter from Shadd Baisden from Dingess, West Virginia.

Senator Manchin said in part: “Today I lead my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring attention to a national crisis that is devastating our communities – the opioid abuse epidemic. Many of my colleagues are from states that are dealing with an increase in opioid abuse, just like my state of West Virginia is. Just like I have, they have heard from families and community leaders who are on the front lines of this epidemic. Today I read a letter from a West Virginian who has been sober for 3 years, but talks about the struggles of getting into treatment and how hard it is to get back all that substance abuse takes from you. In the Senate, we are fighting for him and everyone dealing with substance abuse and we won’t stop fighting for the resources they need.”

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s remarks, click here. Read Shadd’s letter below:

“My name is Shadd Baisden and I am from Dingess, WV. I am writing to tell you my story of Opioid addiction. I am an out of work coal miner with 9 years’ experience. I was injured in the mine in 2011,I was dragged down a beltline 200' and messed the disks L5,S1 in my back. This was how my addiction got started. I was prescribed pain killers and needed surgery but felt I was too young for that. I was out of work for a year, when I decided to settle my compensation claim, so I could return to work. While I was injured the mine I worked in shut down, so I had no job to go back to. I had been on pain killers the whole time I was out of work but stopped being prescribed the after my settlement. I was buying them off the street just to ease my pain. In 2013 I started using Oxycodine and could not stop; I even got my Wife hooked on them. I have 3 daughters 11, 10, and 3. My youngest wasn't born at the time. Our addiction became so bad that we would steal things from our family just to get the drugs. I lost my License to drive, Lost my two oldest daughters because of my addiction. That is when I knew had a serious problem. I sought counselling and treatment, took parenting classes, and my wife and I worked our tails off to get our girls back. We have now been clean and sober for 3 years and have custody of all three girls. I am currently out of work but do lots of odd jobs in my area, because I can’t afford to get my license back and the vehicle I own was Vandalized 3 months ago because I gave an officer info on a dealer not far from my home and somehow the person found out and beat the windows out of my car while I was working. I thank god every day for helping me and my wife stay clean. I thank you for everything you do for the people of WV and hope my story helps someone. I may be out of work right now but good things will come as long as we stay positive. Hope to someday hear from you or hear my story on the Senate Floor. I watch all the time and can see how hard you work and I thank you. May God Bless You and Your Family”

In 2015, more than 33,000 people died from heroin or prescription opioid overdose; on average 91 people die every day. West Virginia reported 818 overdose deaths in 2016 alone – four times the number that occurred in 2001 and nearly a 13% increase from 2015. Worse yet, this trend is moving in the wrong direction. Fifteen percent more people died in 2015 than died in 2014, and we’ve lost almost 200,000 Americans to prescription opioid abuse since 1999. Opioids now kill more people than car accidents. This epidemic is affecting all of our states. No community is immune. We must take action to stop this epidemic.