WELCH, W.Va. -- A new drug treatment clinic in McDowell County has a waiting list of more than 140 people, which shows the need for such services in southern West Virginia, the facility's chief executive officer said.
"We take it as a good sign that people are seeking treatment," Judy Akers, CEO of Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center in Welch, told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (http://bit.ly/11gTnbr). "However, we take it as a bad sign that this many people need treatment. If there are this many people who say they need help there are probably just as many people who are not seeking help or recovery."
Southern Highlands' drug treatment clinic in Mercer County also has a waiting list, she said.
"We are exploring other ways of bringing services into the area," she said. "We are looking at trying to recruit additional physicians to help with the number of people we are seeing. We just have to use what resources we have and hope for the best."
Akers said the Welch clinic treats 24 people at a time but the number often is fluid.
"How long treatment takes depends on the person," Akers said. "People leave by choice. Others stay for different lengths of time depending on what their treatment needs are. It depends on the people in the group and what they need."
Statewide, West Virginia has only 558 treatment center beds for people addicted to drugs or alcohol, and has a higher occupancy rate than every other state except Idaho and New Hampshire, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Federal figures estimate that 119,000 West Virginians need substance abuse treatment, or 1 out of every 13 people statewide, but that just 13,000 are currently getting such care.