Matthew J. Harrison: Addiction sufferers in Boone should see drug settlement money (Gazette)

By By Matthew J. Harrison
AP file photo

I am writing this letter in regards to the prescription drug epidemic that has been fatal for some, and so devastating for many others throughout not only Boone County, but Southern West Virginia as well. Addiction is a serious deadly disease that has no cure but can be managed through the appropriate treatment programs/options offered by professional medical providers.

As an addict myself, I’ve struggled nearly 18 years with this disease which has resulted in the many consequences ranging from several overdoses, losing all my nice furniture, automobiles and other valuables. I’ve burnt irreparable bridges with many friends/family; I’ve spent nearly 10 years in prison, and have lost too many family and friends fatally to this deadly disease to count. Looking back, I recognize and understand there were other contributors to my disease other than my own choices/decisions that played a major role in my addiction. In fact, if it wasn’t for these other contributors my addiction would be less likely as well as many others that are and were suffering with the same disease as myself.

These other contributors made millions of dollars manufacturing, prescribing, and filling these prescriptions pills. This three-way conspiracy had many victims ranging from the addict, the addicts family and children, to the community members that have suffered crimes against them while the three-co-conspirators continued to build a massive net worth neither you nor I could even imagine.

Doctors were making tens of thousands of dollars weekly handing out these prescriptions for whatever the addict sought despite weather the medication was need or appropriate at that time/ while pharmacist aware of the obvious abuse neglected to uphold the integrity of the process by not reporting the outrageous spike to the appropriate agency, and finally you have the manufacture that just kept supplying the need and made billions of dollars killing thousands! Now, my concern is that these conspirators were held accountable either through prosecution, or litigation resulting in millions of dollars in settlements throughout Southern West Virginia including Boone County where I reside.

To date Boone County “the initiator” of the litigation that has resulted in the multi-million dollar settlements does not even have one single drug treatment program that is in-patient to treat this deadly disease caused by these — co-conspirators.

To date Boone County has failed to even invest in the Suboxone/Subutex program that has proven quite successful in surrounding counties. I wonder where this money is? What is it being spent on? Why are the victims not benefiting from settlements considering we are actual victims with the disease?

I don’t understand why we’ve not seen any positive investments or any of the money settled for. A drug rehabilitation center should have been an immediate priority but obviously isn’t. The victims are entitled to this money either through investments or disbursements considering it was our disease that resulted in the settlements. These investments are crucial and could even benefit the victims through other avenues such as scholarships, utility bill assistance or other positive things.

I challenge Boone County to publicly publish how much this money is being spent and who, what, when, where this money is benefiting. I would also like to see a portion disbursed evenly amongst the victims with the disease to be place in an interest bearing account to be used solely for living expenses/education. This is our money and we should be able to voice our opinion on how it should be disbursed. A public meeting should be considered.

Matthew J. Harrison lives in Bim.

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