We need resources to battle addiction

The Ohio River is but a thin dividing line on one critical problem — drug abuse. West Virginia continues to have the highest overdose death rate in the nation, while Ohio has gotten worse. Between the two states, 6,219 people died of drug overdoses during the most recent 12-month period reported by federal authorities.

Nationwide, substance abuse has become a critical public health challenge. During the year for which numbers are available, 66,972 Americans perished from drug overdoses. For a sense of perspective, consider that the U.S. military death toll for the entire Vietnam War was 58,220.

Drug abuse is a crisis beyond the resources of state and local governments. Massive federal intervention is required. Some leaders in Congress have pledged to make that happen. Just days ago, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said lawmakers are working on a comprehensive package of initiatives against opioid addiction.

McConnell’s focus seems to be on helping drug users overcome their addictions and get into the workforce. But another vital aspect of the battle is to target states where the crisis is worst. West Virginia and Ohio, along with McConnell’s Kentucky, clearly need more help and need it very soon. Let us hope McConnell’s plan provides it.