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Group gathers to tackle growing W.Va. drug problem

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014, 04:47 PM EDT

The governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force met in Wheeling on Wednesday.

It’s part of a group of public meetings being held across the state this week.

The task force started about 18 months ago, and the group is working to solve the major drug issue across West Virginia.

Six regions are being visited, and the meetings are public. Families effected by a drug problem, law enforcement, doctors and counselors are just some of the people attending the meetings.

One father, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he believes his 26-year-old son will die or end up in prison if someone doesn’t help them.

“We have asked for help and we couldn’t get it,” he said.

Kathy Paxton, director for West Virginia Substance Abuse Services, said they want to offer hope and a solution. Paxton said that solution isn’t going to be overnight.

“We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and the results aren’t going to be immediate,” said Paxton.

She said there are different problems for different parts of the state. Paxton said in Charleston, meth and prescription pill abuse is an issue. She said the Northern Panhandle is dealing with heroin.

“Law enforcement will tell you they can't arrest their way out of this problem, and the same with counselors,” said Paxton. “In these meetings we really talk about need and the specifics.”

She said the people talk about what they are seeing and experiencing.

“We don’t want to say it's such a terrible problem we can't do anything about it,” said Paxton. “We work with hope.”

Here’s a list of those public hearings still scheduled for this week:

Region 5 (Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Clay, Cabell, Wayne, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln, Boone): June 19, 10 a.m. to noon, Prestera Center (Hansen Hall), 5600 U.S. Route 60, East Huntington.

Region 6 (Webster, Pocahontas, Nicholas, Fayette, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, Wyoming, Mercer, McDowell): June 19, 6 to 8 p.m., Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center (Room A), 200 Armory Drive, Beckley.

Group gathers to tackle growing W.Va. drug problem

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