Report: Substance Abuse Treatment Center

Commissioner Noland met with interested members of the League of Women Voters on May 9 to update us on the progress toward establishment of a substance abuse treatment center for the Eastern Panhandle area.

She described her own family’s experience with drug addiction and the difficulty they had finding effective treatment. Then she told us that the WVU Hospital committee where she represented the Jefferson County Commission had morphed to 35 members and was now too large to be effective. She described the efforts of the Berkeley County Commission to address substance abuse.

Tina Burns attended and discussed behavioral health resources. She said that the WVU Hospital committee and other groups have emphasized the need for a continuum of care, and a variety of groups are working to address different elements. Behavioral Health Services of Shenandoah Community Health and Eastridge each has four psychiatrists and a number of psychotherapists, but the mental health and substance abuse needs always seem to exceed the resources available. Shenandoah CHC is expanding services at its Charles Town location to better meet needs in Jefferson County. There was discussion about Berkeley County’s proposed treatment center. While Berkeley County has no zoning, the cities of Charles Town and Martinsburg do. A different agency wanted to establish a substance abuse treatment center in downtown Charles Town, but both the Charles Town location and the Martinsburg location proposed by the BC Council did not meet zoning requirements.

It seemed to us that Berkeley County was stuck and we brainstormed ways to address the problem in Jefferson County. We discussed prevention programs in schools and after-school programs, re-entry programs for prisoners, programs such as Martinsburg’s Promise Neighborhood, Morgan County Starting Points, Morgan County Partnership, and the gaps in the continuum of care.