Tag Archives: Drug abuse

Mark Caserta: Huntington leadership policies on drug abuse not working

22 Jun

huntington, wv



Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

June 22, 2019


“The highest per capita overdose rate and the highest per capita death rate in the country for opiates is right here in the Southern District of West Virginia. To a certain degree, Huntington has become ground zero, the epicenter of the opioid crisis” – Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia is quoted as saying on the AddictionCenter website.

Per Addiction-Treatment.com, the United State spends approximately $276 billion every year to deal with substance abuse – with absolutely nothing to show for it!

Folks, believe me when I tell you there is big money in drug rehabilitation. While I’ve no doubt there are sincere samaritans who have a heart for healing, I believe there are sinister members of society who profit by the enterprise.

It’s a disgusting fact, but one in which we must be cautiously cognizant.

Many experts will confirm that our fair city of Huntington, WV. has become a “hub for drug trafficking”. Sadly, our city leadership and local media have failed miserably in bringing light to this disturbing fact.

Drug traffickers traveling to West Virginia bring large amounts of synthetic opiate drugs for distribution. And why not? We’re a nation of supply and demand, and the demand for drugs in our area is huge.

Dealers and addicts travel from Michigan and surrounding states to market their wares in the prominent heroin “flea market” known as Huntington. Reportedly, major drug trafficking organizations have now taken root in the city, some of whom are gang related, with Detroit and Columbus being the main sources of traffickers of heroin into Huntington per my sources.

And the fruits of their labor are all around us!

Our city is laden with increased property crime, visible prostitution, homicides and regular fatal overdoses, all stemming from an industry which is alarmingly growing in our own back yard.

And what does our city leadership do? As far as I can tell, very little, except enable destructive behavior. Our court house policies of reduced first responders, drug rehab and needle exchange seem to do far more to enable the drug culture than prevent it.

Disagree? Look around you.

Our city is a stone’s throw away from becoming the East Coast distributor for liberal, progressive policies of inclusion and temperance. How long will it be before the homeless overtake sections of our city and our streets are laden with disease and pestilence? How long will it be before the scourge of life without purpose begins to suffocate our very existence?

How long will it be before our city takes its last breath?

Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But try telling that to the helpless citizens of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York who have fallen prey to the whims of progressive activists who spend more time fighting for the rights of illegals than they do our nation’s citizens. Their tax dollars are stripped away at alarming rates to coddle the increasing numbers of the poor and destitute.

But rise in protest and you’re declared a racist, intolerant homophobe. Such is the progressive ideology.

It’s time we demand our city leaders to take another approach, using a rather unique concept to liberals.

It’s called enforcing the law.

A 2018 column in The Hill, by Kahryn Riley, entitled, “Detroit a model when it comes to solving the opioid epidemic” describes steps drug-ridden cities have taken to curb the opioid epidemic.

Detroit and other cities across the nation are now using specialty dockets as an innovative way to respond to the opioid challenge. These “problem-solving courts”, sometimes known as “drug courts”, were pioneered by a trial judge in Hawaii to combat drug addiction and alcoholism among defendants in his courtroom.

Offenders who are caught up in substance abuse often cycle perpetually through the traditional criminal justice system with minimal results. But drug courts seek to end substance abuse by the people who enter them, using “treatment, intensive supervision and drug testing, frequent status hearings before their judge, and graduated incentives and sanctions.” Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, defense counsel, probation officers and treatment providers collaborate to help participants build accountability and make healthy choices.

As law enforcement agencies work to get drugs off the street, lawyers and judges are doing their part to ensure justice is served for dealers and users. Prosecutors are bringing homicide charges against drug dealers whose wares result in the deaths of their customers.

They’re simply enforcing the laws on the books. And the model is working!

By treating the underlying problem, these courts reduce the rate at which offenders commit additional crimes while simultaneously shrinking the number who are drug-addicted or alcohol-dependent. The model saves money in the long run — and the lives of defendants.

It’s time we lay aside the fruitless efforts of our city leaders which have proven feckless in the fight against drug abuse. Continuing down the same road and expecting different results is simply insanity.

It’s time our leaders get smart and look at how other cities facing similar issues are being successful, if they truly want to solve the problem.

I call upon city leaders to immediately reach out for counsel in helping Huntington overcome this plight that is devastating our city economy and future. Put your service to the citizens of Huntington ahead of your pride.

Our approach to this problem must change. It isn’t working.









Sarah Thacker: An Overview of the Needle Exchange Program in Huntington, WV.

13 Aug

Is this program actually being effective in reducing drug abuse in Huntington?

sarah thacker

Sarah Thacker is a professional, free-lance writer with a versatile writing style.  Free State Patriot welcomes her youthful, energetic style and versatility to our blog as a regular contributor.



If you spend much time walking around Huntington, chances are you’ve seen the new state flower: the hypodermic needle. They pop up in the grass, on sidewalks, in alleys, and in massive heaps in parks. I’ve personally even seen them in the middle of the road, making me wonder how that even happened.

It’s becoming a problem, with children being stabbed by them while playing in public parks and working-class pedestrians stepping on them while walking home from work. Even though it’s become public knowledge through documentaries on national news networks and popular video streaming platforms that Huntington is one of the most drug-addled cities in the United states, there are no documentaries that show where the needles come from.

A lot of people would, understandably, assume that most drug addicts wouldn’t have the money to buy needles. Stereotypically, drug addicts spend their money on their drugs, and when their money is spent, they steal from other people to fund their addiction. So, what do they do when they have their drugs, but not the needles to do the drugs with? That’s a problem that the city and county officials took it upon themselves to solve.

Shortly after Huntington was dubbed the overdose capital of the nation, city officials and the Health Department created a “Harm Reduction Program”, which is colloquially referred to as the “needle exchange program”. It’s goal is to give drug addicts clean needles and supplies so that they aren’t tempted to share needles with other users and spread blood borne illnesses and diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV. There are, what I consider, some outrageous oversights regarding this program.

First, an addict can walk in, and for a nominal fee, receive a handy hype kit. It includes everything that they need to do drugs, except the drugs. Secondly, the term “exchange” is used far too loosely regarding this program. It’s not a 1-for-1 exchange system. If they pay the fee, they can walk in and get more needles without ever bringing any back.

This causes a lot of problems for those of us who live and work in Huntington. It seems that the officials are enabling drug addicts and the drug problem, literally handing them the supplies they need to do drugs and overdose. And then taxpayers must pay for the harm reduction program and the emergency services to help the addicts when they overdose. As of right now, taxpayers are literally paying to keep drug addicts alive, and no one really asked us our opinion about that. And because the program doesn’t use a true 1-for-1 exchange, addicts are leaving needles wherever they’re using, which seems to be in mostly public places.

There are those that argue that without the harm reduction program, disease will run rampant throughout the population. But, it seems to me that most illnesses associated with drug use are blood borne, not airborne. This means that they’re not super contagious. All one should have to do to not catch a blood borne illness from a needle- drug user is to avoid exchanging bodily fluids with them, which seems like a good rule of thumb, in general.

Should we end the exchange program? Probably. But we’ll need to have a solid game plan in effect to combat the drug use, crime and homelessness that drug use and addiction brings with it, and that’s a topic for another article.


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