Opioid addiction nonprofit comes to W.Va.

MORGANTOWN — In his post-Congressional life, former West Virginia Congressman Alan Mollohan moved into the nonprofit world.
Specifically, Mollohan is serving as chair of the Board of Directors for the Addiction Policy Forum (APF), a nonprofit aimed at matching those suffering from addiction with local resources.
“(We’re) dealing with legislation, promoting legislation that helps promote and support funding for programs that fight addiction right down to helping those people who are addicted — and their families in their local communities by making available and directing them to resources that they would have access to in their local communities.”
APF uses the Addiction Resource Center (ARC) as an internet hub for those suffering directly or related to someone suffering directly. In West Virginia, the website lists each of the 55 counties, allowing users to explore each county in an effort to find potential treatment options.
“It’s a comprehensive resource available to patients, available to their families,” Mollohan said. “It includes an online database that allows the person who says, ‘Oh my gosh, we have an addiction problem, what do we do now?’ That’s a big problem.
“They can go to the database. They can see what resources are in their community as a starting point in dealing with the problem in their lives.”
All 55 counties are listed in the ARC database, which is now live.
“There may be a county that doesn’t have a resource,” Mollohan said. “That’s conceivable — doesn’t have a hospital, doesn’t have a counselor, doesn’t have a psychiatrist. So you look at the county next to you or nearest you or just click on a distant county.
“You can find resources either in your county or you can try to find resources that are closest to your county in order to begin as an entry point to dealing with the addiction that you’ve discovered, maybe in yourself or your family.”
Mollohan said the other role APF plays is in advocacy — trying to change the stigma that surrounds substance abuse and addictive disorders.
“It’s a disease,” he said. “It’s a disease just like flu is a disease, cancer, heart attacks. But it’s more difficult because addictions by their nature are focused on those who are most susceptible to addictions and most susceptible to the cravings that create the addiction.
“We need to raise the awareness in the community that this is a disease, and this is how we deal with it as a disease.”
Mollohan added that all of this is occurring while researchers, doctors and counselors continue to play from behind, trying to play catch-up to the rapidly growing crisis that claimed close to 64,000 lives in 2016.
“We should’ve understood that it is a disease, and it needs to be treated like a disease,” he said. “We need to have funding for detection, for assessments, for treating, and in our criminal system. We need to understand that it’s important that when people are incarcerated out of criminal acts because of their addiction that in the part of the program
of their incarceration is treatment and anticipating their release and following up with programs in the community so they don’t relapse.”
With a team of more than 30, APF also makes videos to explain the science behind addiction.
APF also offers a resource line staffed by addiction counselors, licensed social workers and peer recovery support advocates who provide callers with substance use disorder-related information.

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