WLU’s Miller Working to Fight Drugs in Appalachia

Francesca Miller, a senior at West Liberty University, said she has seen the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse – that’s why an internship working for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., this summer really “hit home.”

“I’ve had friends who have been on prescription drugs. It was cool knowing it was a national problem and that the federal government is aware and we are not on our own,” Miller said.

Miller spent her summer working with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas agency, which coordinates with local law enforcement officials to address their local drug control problems. Miller was assigned to communicate with law enforcement in the Appalachian region, including West Virginia, and learned that the region is greatly affected by a prescription drug abuse problem.

Four counties in the Northern Panhandle – Ohio, Marshall, Brooke and Hancock – are designated as HIDTAs. There are 14 HIDTAs in West Virginia.

“The Appalachian region is a big interest to them, especially up north, because I-70 runs right through it and a lot of HIDTAs are on major highways because drugs are transported over state lines. That’s a huge problem for them,” Miller said of the Washington agency.

She said her time in the nation’s capital made her more aware of the national drug problem and that she now notices local efforts being made to address the issue.

“I learned how the federal government works with the state and local governments, and HIDTA is a really good example of how they work together to fight a problem that does affect a lot of lives,” she said.

Miller is an English major who plans to attend law school after graduation.