Mountain State regional transit agency helping with substance abuse treatment statewide

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — In fighting substance abuse disorder in the Mountain State, an eastern panhandle transit agency is taking the lead.

Often the barrier between substance abuse and recovery is transportation, especially in a rural state like West Virginia. But the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources and dozen-and-a-half transportation authorities across the Mountain State are knocking down that barrier.

“There’s a bunch of people that want to provide recovery services but they have no way to get there. So they came to us as transportation experts to provide transportation so we signed on board,” says Amanda Sink, deputy director, Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority.

The state opioid response program is helping with that recovery effort. A $1.5 million grant has funded software for transit authorities across the state to track their clients who need a ride to their treatment center. Those managing the program, like Sink in Berkeley County, know how important transportation is to many in the recovery process and that it can often prevent a relapse. And her transit authority, literally, goes the extra mile.

“EPTA only provides service between Berkeley and Jefferson counties in the eastern panhandle,” says Sink,” but we’ve taken trips all the way down to Charleston to Huntington getting people to recovery. So, it’s an amazing program and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

The program has been so successful in its first year, another $900,000 has been allocated for a second year of funding.

As for the success in this partnership between transportation authorities and recovery providers, there’s a lot riding on it. Treatment advocates say that along with transportation, child care is another major barrier to seeking recovery.

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