Man Gives Up Drugs And Goes Into Rehab After Hearing Obama Speak

By Keri Blakinger 11/05/15

The unidentified West Virginia man heard the president speak late last month.

President Obama
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One West Virginia man voluntarily handed all his drugs over to police last month after watching the president talk on Oct. 21.

During a speech in Charleston, Obama spoke about the need to reduce demand for opiates. He talked about how hard the Mountain State has been hit by the heroin epidemic and offered some sobering data, stating that there were 259 million prescriptions written for painkillers in 2015 and, at this point, more Americans had died from overdoses than from car crashes every year.

He offered solutions as well. Obama spoke about how his proposed 2016 budget offers more than $100 million for overdose prevention and medically assisted treatment programs.

“We’ve all got a role to play,” the president said, according to the West Virginia Gazette Mail. “These are our kids. It’s not somebody else’s kids, it’s our kids; it’s not somebody else’s neighborhood, it’s our neighborhood.”

An unidentified man in his mid-30s, from nearby Cross Lanes, was moved by the president’s words, and later that day he called 911 repeatedly until deputies showed up at his house. 

According to local TV station WSAZ, when Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on scene, the man put his hands on the wall, and asked for help. He showed the police in to see a cooler that contained digital scales, 16 Suboxone packs, 158 painkillers, and 19 grams of ecstasy.

The man told police he was a heavy drug user and said that, after watching President Obama speak, he decided he wanted to get clean.

"No criminal charges were filed in connection with this matter, and none will be filed," the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office said. "We applaud this person's self-initiated efforts and wish him well in his recovery."

The man was taken to a rehab where he voluntarily entered treatment.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.