Two Year Plan to Combat Local Drug Problem

Huntington mayor Steve Williams in office

Charleston Daily Mail

Lexi Browning/The Parthenon Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is photographed in his office on Tuesday, August 26.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams announced a strategic plan for combating drugs in the area in an effort to reduce addiction and overdose related deaths.

The two-year plan will focus on the prevention, treatment and law enforcement. The youth of the area will also be a primary concern, where after school programs and outreach programs will inform them of the dangers of drugs.

Bryan Chambers, Communications Director for the City of Huntington said, “We have to give people hope. There are opportunities to get treatment and recover.”

In the first six months of this year alone, there have been 474 overdoses in Huntington, with 34 being fatal. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of overdoses in the United States.

The plan will aim to prevent addiction by educating the youth about the dangers of drugs, treat addicts through expanded counseling programs, offering more transitional housing, ensuring drug dealers are prosecuted through the legal system and strengthen law enforcement’s abilities.

Felony clemency is also mentioned in the drug plan, which would allow some drug offenders to expunge their records, allowing for easier employment and a path to an addiction free life.

“We have to give people hope. There are opportunities to get treatment and recover.””

— Bryan Chambers

The mayor’s office met with legislatures to discuss the possibility of a felony clemency clause for the near future.

The most successful local rehabilitation center, The Recovery Point, currently has around a six-month wait for potential clients.

The plan states that the average cost of keeping someone incarcerated in West Virginia is $48.25, while recovery centers can treat someone for around $27 a day.

More attention will be paid to out of state drug traffickers than the addicts in Huntington, in an attempt to change their minds about bringing the substances to our city.

Mayor Williams also proposed a statute that would make firearm possession a separate felony while trafficking drugs, in an effort to keep our first responders safer during emergencies or arrests.

Shawna Bartram, a student at Marshall said she has seen the area take a turn for the worst lately. “I don’t feel safe anymore because of the crime,” Bartram said, referring to violence associated with the drug dependency in the area.

But the drug plan aims to reduce violent acts within Huntington by eliminating the drug problem.

“It’s a great start,” said Chambers “but we are in no way doing touchdown dances here.”