West Virginia Governor's Communications Office Gov. Jim Justice announces a pilot project to combat the drug epidemic in Berkeley and Jefferson counties on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia will expand a state pilot program to address substance use disorder at the local level to a second location as Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that Berkeley and Jefferson counties will be the next site of the initiative.

The project provides state resources to existing community partners to expand resources for prevention, early intervention, treatment, overdose reversal, family support and recovery.

The first pilot project, announced in February 2018, is based in Wyoming County and is now being finalized before beginning. The Wyoming project is a joint effort along with the state Office of Drug Control Policy and Marshall University.

The Berkeley/Jefferson project in the northern portion of the state will instead team with West Virginia University.

“We’ve got the expertise right here to be able to fix it, unfortunately this is a problem that’s going to take a lot of money,” Justice said. “So we have the expertise to build these pilot projects to give us a formula to fix it.”

Justice touted the concept of using small county-level pilot projects, where methods can be perfected before being expanded across the state, as more efficient and cost-effective than the “scattergun” approach of spreading a limited amount of funding evenly across the state.

“These counties are in the top 10 when it comes to the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in West Virginia,” Justice said in a statement following the press conference. “West Virginia communities need solutions, and this initiative will help us determine what works so that we can develop a model that can be replicated across the state.”

No timetable for the Berkeley/Jefferson pilot was announced.

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