In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Resources launched an effort to combat the rapidly growing drug addiction and substance abuse problem in West Virginia. In 2011, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin established the Advisory Council on Substance Abuse to provide regional input into addressing the problem.
In this case, state government relied upon an organizational structure that focused more on process and effort, rather than being primarily results driven. In particular, the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) in the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) failed to establish and maintain specific metrics that could measure whether or not the State’s efforts are having an impact on key areas of the overall problem. Moreover, the lack of a data-driven approach to addressing the State’s drug addiction and substance abuse problem precludes our ability to institute and uphold accountability as well as take the steps necessary to create more productive solutions to the problem.
This policy paper offers several recommendations to create a mission-focused, results oriented effort including:
Establishing a Governor’s Drug Action Team with the broad authority to attack the problem;
Engaging a university or private research center to assist in establishing specific metrics that can be used to measure the progress of the State’s efforts;
Creating accountability by focusing resources on those programs that can provide success in terms of the metrics established;
Including job training and placement as a critical supplemental element to education, intervention, treatment and recovery.
Changing our criminal justice system in a manner that will harshly punish the professional drug pushers while providing addicts with a second chance.