– Unique program gets miners back to work while receiving treatment for addiction to prescription pain medication –
RICHMOND- Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced today the expansion of the Commonwealth substance abuse treatment program for miners in Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS) will receive $285,000 of federal funding to build on the success of its unique treatment program for miners who have lost their mining certification due to addiction to prescription pain medication. Provisions for the funds were offered by U.S. Senator Jim Webb.
"The treatment provided by this project will get affected miners the help they need to go back to work addiction free," Governor Kaine said. "We have an obligation to do what we can to help these citizens, especially through our enhancement of the community services boards that serve Southwestern Virginia."
To address rising drug problems in Southwestern Virginia, DMHMRSAS has sought to serve the local population with substance abuse services through enhanced services and expanded capacity of the areas' community services boards. This injection of federal funds will support an expansion of a recently developed partnership between the Division of Mining, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), and the Cumberland Mountain, Planning District I and Dickenson County community service boards-which include Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Wise counties and the City of Norton.
Services provided by the program include a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment, usually outpatient. Based on their progress, participants may return to work but must continue to engage in treatment, participate in self-help groups, and submit to random drug screens. Positive screens are reported to DMME and are considered violations resulting in suspension from mining certification.
"There were 8.3 drug-related deaths per every 100,000 Virginians in 2006. In the counties targeted by these funds, there was an average of 33.4 such deaths per 100,000 in the same year," said Frank Tetrick, assistant commissioner of the DMHMRSAS Division of Services and Supports. "Treatment will help improve quality of life in many areas like the general health of the participants, the social and financial security of their families and safety in their communities."