No One is Exempt

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin knows the pain and frustration of thousands of West Virginia families at a level many others in Charleston may not. His brother, Carl, is facing federal drug distribution charges for allegedly distributing the prescription painkiller oxymorphone.

Carl Tomblin was charged with intentionally distributing a drug in the same class as cocaine, oxycontin and methamphetamines. In other words, he is believed to have become swept up in the plague that has struck particularly Southern West Virginia to a degree that is so mind-boggling, lawmakers and law enforcement officials are almost overwhelmed in their attempt to stop it.

“I’ve said many times that drug addiction can affect any family, and it has affected mine,” the governor said once news of the charge broke.

It is true. No family is exempt and the vast majority of the families affected are not equipped with the resources the Tomblins have at their disposal. In fact, Earl Ray Tomblin has created an Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, provided greater resources for drug treatment and expanded drug court programs with a prison-reform bill, and announced last month three new detox stabilization units to begin operation in the Northern Panhandle and Greenbrier and Logan counties.

Gov. Tomblin is indeed in need of the prayers he asked for this week. If there is good to come of his “very difficult day,” it must be that lawmakers begin to understand drug abuse – especially of prescription drugs and those created using over-the-counter medications – is everyone’s problem, and one that demands their full attention immediately. From the man huddled in a homeless shelter to the man in the governor’s mansion, no one is untouched.