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Lara Trump: On opioid crisis, WV needs action, not talk (Gazette Opinion)

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West Virginia is being destroyed by one of the worst epidemics in American history.

The Mountain State suffers from the highest drug overdose death rate in the country. In 2017, nearly one thousand people died from drug overdoses in West Virginia — up from the previous all-time record of 887 overdoses in 2016.

It’s time for change. We need new ideas and decisive action to combat this deadly epidemic that is tearing our communities apart.

President Trump has listened to the cries of the affected families and is working tirelessly to bring relief to West Virginia and other states impacted nationwide.

Heroin and similar opioids are quickly becoming a major killer of Americans. There has been exponential growth in new addiction cases in small towns and rural communities across our country.

Between 2006 and 2016, drug companies shipped nearly 21 million opioid narcotics to Williamson, West Virginia, a town with a population of 2,900. Similarly, in Kermit — population 392 — the town’s lone pharmacy received 9 million hydrocodone pills over two years from out-of-state drug companies.

These small-town pharmacies serve as distribution centers for local addicts and for the drug trade throughout the region.

In 2016, the people of West Virginia elected President Trump in part to combat this deadly issue, and, so far, he’s made incredible strides.

One of the top priorities for President Trump is to reduce the demand for opioids and correct over-prescription practices. His goal is to cut nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years and ensure that 95 percent of opioid prescriptions reimbursed by federal health care programs are properly issued within the next five years.

President Trump also plans to cut off the supply of illicit drugs pouring into communities like Williamson and Kermit. His Opioid Initiative will crack down on international and domestic illicit-drug supply chains devastating communities in West Virginia. In Kanawha County, for example, 27 percent of overdose deaths were due to fentanyl, a drug 35 times stronger than heroin and illegally imported from China and Mexico.

That’s why my father-in-law has outlined a plan to secure land borders, ports of entry and waterways against illegal smuggling. He’s also engaging with China and expanding cooperation with Mexico to reduce supplies of illicit drugs pouring into our country.

Most importantly, President Trump has laid out plans to help those actually struggling with addiction through evidence-based treatment. A $485 million grant program was set up to support state-level prevention, treatment and recovery services.

But to gain more ground, President Trump needs help from Congress. If the dysfunctional Democrats gain control of Congress in November, you can bet there will be a huge step back on this important issue. The Democrats have proven that, under their watch, the opioid crisis only got worse.

But with Republicans at the helm, President Trump has proven that real change can occur.

That’s why election time is so important. Partisan gridlock in Washington only hurts the thousands of families affected by opioids.

West Virginia doesn’t have time for political theatrics as hundreds of West Virginians die each year from addiction. President Trump is moving heaven and earth to put an end to this epidemic — but he needs reinforcements in Congress to get the job done.

Lara Trump is the daughter-in-law of President Donald Trump and a senior adviser to Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

Funerals for Monday, June 17, 2019

Baker, Peggy - 11 a.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Goff, Joyce - 1 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Kirby, Helen - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Kizer, Ernest - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mount Hope.

Leach, Robert - 5 p.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Sheets, Jonathan - 2 p.m., O’Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Sturm, John - 11 a.m., Simpson Creek Baptist Church, Bridgeport.

Suttle, James - 2 p.m., Wallace & Wallace Chapel, Rainelle. ements.

Wood, E.C. - 1 p.m., Humphrey's Memorial United Methodist Church, Sissonville.

Woodall, Kennedy - 11 a.m., Forest Hills Cemetery, Flatrock.