POINT PLEASANT — Mason County Sheriff Corey Miller took office with aspirations of helping better the community, all of the community.
While in office, Miller and the sheriff’s department have been advocates for recovery with repeated messages to reach out to the sheriff’s office for assistance in finding treatment and the overall offer for help.
“That’s something we wanted to combat, the drugs being brought in and not necessarily targeting users,” Miller said. “Of course we want to help them too, but we wanted to try to cut the head off at the snake, so to speak.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2019, West Virginia had more than 8,700 drug overdose deaths — a rate of 52.8. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has also reported an increase in substance use and drug overdoses in the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously reported by the Point Pleasant Register, Miller is working to rectify a staffing shortage in the department.
Over the summer school break, the sheriff’s office had a drug unit setup with the extra staffing from the PROs on the road, Miller said.
“That’s something we will continue to do,” Miller said. “Especially when we get back fully staffed. And I hope to at least in the summer months, three to four months, we have our extra PRO guys on the the road. We were able to designate two guys to do drug work and they work with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] and some other state organizations. We were able to do some good stuff this summer. That’s something I plan to continue to do.”
Miller has watched many people from his life, not only face the battles of substance use disorder (SUD), but succumb to the effects of SUD; and said he understands how using opiates to treat an injury can lead to something more severe.
With an increase of drug lacing, “sophisticated” systems and various drug trafficking, Miller and the department has to stay on top of drug trends and patterns.
Miller has also seen the rewards of people getting into recovery.
“There’s one young lady that we arrested right when I first got in office and I lost her in the court system,” Miller said. “She went to jail. I was actually calling her at jail and checking in with her lawyer, trying to get her in drug court.”
Miller said the young lady was in a bad position when he first saw her but did find her way into recovery.
“We went up to the Hope for Tomorrow for a call and she was in there,” Miller said. “I didn’t recognize her because she had put on like 30 pounds, she was a small lady anyways, I was like, ‘oh my God, you look clean. You look healthy. You got some meat on your bones.’”
The young lady also recognized Miller.
“She went up and gave me a big hug and remembered me,” Miller said. “[She] said, ‘this is the guy that arrested me,’ told all of her buddies that. She looked good and I’ve tried to keep track of her once she got out of there.”
Miller expressed pure jubilation over the encounter.
“That made me feel like a million bucks,” Miller said. “She had a chance because she really wanted to get her child back. I went home and told my wife, I said man, you’re not going to believe what happened to me — she was clean, looked terrific. She’s someone I pray for every night.”
Miller said he prays for those with SUD everyday and keeps up with many of the local programs.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot more losses than there are wins,” Miller said. “I tell most people this is from what I’ve experienced, you need to get into rehab away from this county, if you can find placement out of this state somewhere and you can get insurance covered or somehow finance [and] make it work and get it and once you get out of here, I hate to say it, but if you get clean, you need to stay away, you don’t have the same old people.”
Though the job can be tough, Miller said it is rewarding.
“I’ll tell you right now, sometimes it’s very rewarding to be able to help people,” Miller said. “And I would say that, I hope people are satisfied with the job I’m doing right now and if not, my door’s always open and I hope I can do a lot more in the next three years and hopefully for more after that.”
Miller said when someone in the community needs something, they will do whatever they can to help. He said that Frank Holcomb, chief administrator, and Miller himself are always available to answer questions, address concerns or help the community.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.