Diving deep into issues with West Virginians is at the heart of my work in Washington. You are where I get ideas on legislation-where I learn how Congress' actions affect people from Harpers Ferry to Hamlin, from Weirton to War, and every peak and valley in between.
That's why I'm asking for your feedback again -- on one of the biggest issues facing our state: How do we solve the prescription drug abuse epidemic in West Virginia?
I just launched an interactive social media project to gather your thoughts on how to better fight prescription drug abuse. Check out the video on my YouTube page (www.youtube.com/SenatorRockefeller) to learn more about this issue, the devastating impact it's having on West Virginia, and all that I'm working on to try to stop it. And I'd like to add your voice.
I hope you'll join me in this fight to tackle the prescription drug abuse epidemic in West Virginia by offering your ideas on Facebook or Twitter using #StopRxDrugAbuseWV. Or if you would prefer to leave a private message, you can do so on my website (http://www.rockefeller.senate.gov).
Prescription drug abuse is a full-on epidemic in West Virginia. And I keep hearing that the biggest problem is the lack of affordable and accessible treatment options for those who are addicted. Just last month, at discussions in Huntington and Charleston, it came up again and again: Arresting drug abusers and throwing them in jail isn't the full answer. Unless we address mental health and treatment, the problem isn't going away. People's lives are hanging in the balance.
This year, I'm pushing for two pieces of legislation -- the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and the Excellence in Mental Health Act -- that are the direct result of what I'm hearing from West Virginians.
These two bills, which I'm fighting hard to get passed, are comprehensive, across-the-board measures that fight prescription drug abuse on a wide range of fronts from prevention to treatment. Many people, even doctors and pharmacists, don't always have the best information about how dangerous prescription drugs can be. These bills improve education and training for doctors and pharmacists, establish a national education and outreach campaign to inform consumers, especially teenagers, about the dangers of prescription drugs, increase funding for states to monitor prescription drugs and prevent "doctor shopping" and, perhaps most importantly, improve the type and availability of mental health and substance addiction treatment options.
These policies were born from what I hear from you every day -- from the letters, calls and emails I receive. From the conversations I hold. From the heart-wrenching stories I hear -- like the dear grandmother who had her grandson arrested to keep him from prescription drugs, and the mother whose only option for her son was a terribly expensive treatment facility hours from their home.
To them and so many West Virginians, I've made a promise to find a better way forward.
I firmly believe that good policy comes from personal experience. And that's why I want to hear from you, too.
There is no silver bullet. But your stories -- and the courage it takes to share them -- will help us target the best ways to find solutions that really work for West Virginia.
Rockefeller is West Virginia's senior senator.