West Virginia’s Dr. Rahul Gupta is now the nation’s Drug Czar

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Dr. Rahul Gupta was sworn-in today as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy – informally known as the country’s “drug czar.” His appointment comes as the nation has logged more than one hundred thousand drug overdose deaths in the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to state that the challenge to save lives, has never been greater,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Dr. Gupta served for years as the director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and then became the state’s public health officer. Gupta’s access to President Biden, especially on opioid issues, is considered crucial.

“Absolutely between him and Senator Manchin, I figure both of hem will have the president’s ear on a whole host of issues. And I think West Virginia can only benefit by having the president’s ear in that regard,” said State Sen. Richard Lindsay, (D) Kanawha.

The Appalachian region in general, and West Virginia in particular, have among the worst overdose death rates in the nation. Many state lawmakers say they need to focus on a mix of prevention, law enforcement and treatment when they meet in their next session in January.

“We have to collaborate and that’s the biggest key. No one individual is going to be able to fix this problem. We have to find ways to come together as a community, as families and as a state to try to help these people,” said Del. Evan Worrell, (R) Cabell.

“We need to be able to put forth a place where people can go and get significant treatment over a period of time,” said State Sen. Lindsay.

One of the biggest problems now is the increase in heroin laced which Fentanyl, which makes it much more deadly.

“There is a push for more police action, especially with so much drug trafficking coming from other states. But advocates often say, we simply can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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