Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise in State

Mar 7, 2017

Fatal drug overdoses in West Virginia continued to rise last year, as its overdose death rate still far outpaces any other state.

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Citing a Feb. 13 analysis by the West Virginia Health Statistics Center, The Register-Herald reports that at least 818 people in the state died of drug overdoses in 2016 — four times the number that occurred in 2001 and a nearly 13 percent increase over last year.

About 86 percent of the deaths in 2016 involved at least one opioid.

State officials say the data may change as more death certificates are recorded.

Bureau for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta says fewer opioids are being prescribed, but addicts have been turning to the cheaper alternative of heroin, which is often contaminated with extremely potent fentanyl.