Drug Overdose

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Cabell County is leading West Virginia in the number of fatal overdoses for the second year in a row.

Citing state data, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports 909 people died of drug overdoses in West Virginia in 2017, an increase from the previous record of 887, set in 2016. Overdose deaths seemed to slow during late 2017, though the state Health Statistics Center says that could be due to reporting delays.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources released an analysis today of the factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood of fatally overdosing. 

The report presents a kind of “profile of an overdose victim in West Virginia.” Researchers found that men are twice as likely to die from a drug overdose as women. They also found that men working in blue collar industries that have a higher risk of injury may be at an increased risk for overdose death.

About 70 percent of those who fatally overdosed had Medicaid in the 12 months preceding their death.

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Jim Johnson, director of the West Virginia's new Office of Drug Control Policy, has announced his retirement after almost five months in the position.

The office within the Department of Health and Human Resources was established by lawmakers to coordinate and expand state measures against drug abuse.

On The Legislature Today, we bring you a special focus on West Virginia’s opioid epidemic. First, we take you to the small town of Kermit where the tragic toll of the epidemic has weighed heavily on residents, and then, host Andrea Lannom chats with two lawmakers who outline legislation addressing the issue on multiple fronts.

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Updated Friday January 12 at 4:18 p.m.

State health officials are proposing a multifaceted plan for confronting the drug crisis killing hundreds of West Virginians each year, one that would require action by everyone from lawmakers to doctors to judges to emergency responders to the general public.

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A West Virginia University researcher says the official U.S. suicide rate, which rose 34 percent from 2000 to 2016, fails to include many people who kill themselves purposely with drugs.

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A federal judge on Tuesday likened the nation's opioid epidemic to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic while noting the drug crisis is "100 percent manmade."

Judge Dan Polster urged participants on all sides of lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths. He said the issue has come to courts because "other branches of government have punted" it.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Thursday steps for an opioid response plan to combat the opioid epidemic. DHHR is asking West Virginians to help develop the plan through public comment and recommendations over the next 15 days.

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Jim Johnson has been named director of the West Virginia's new Office of Drug Control Policy.

Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch announced Johnson's appointment Thursday.

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House Bill 2620, creating the West Virginia Drug Overdose Monitoring Act, would provide an office to gather data about the drug epidemic in West Virginia. Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump called that office a “hub.”

This would be a tool for the state to track concerns over drug abuse and overdoses throughout the state, as well as connect with other states to determine how they deal with similar concerns. Sen. Mike Woelfel said it is time for the Legislature to solve the problem.

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Senators are considering amendments to a bill that would make it illegal to manufacture and distribute fentanyl in West Virginia, adding it to the state’s list of schedule one drugs.

One Senator, however, thinks the bill may prohibit doctors from prescribing the drug for terminally ill patients, which caused some delay to consideration Friday.

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The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that will encourage the creation of substance abuse treatment facilities in the state.

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The number of reported overdose deaths that occurred last year in West Virginia has continued to rise.

Citing data released Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that at least 844 people died in the state of drug overdoses in 2016.

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Ohio County sheriff's deputies are soon going to start carrying antidotes for opioid overdoses.

WTRF-TV reports that the Ohio County commission on Tuesday announced their approval for deputies to carry Naloxone, which reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

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Members in the House of Delegates have considered a number of bills this legislative session that increase the penalties for breaking various laws. At least three of those bills have focused on drug crimes which Republican lawmakers say is in response to the state’s substance abuse epidemic.

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

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.

While millions of addictive pain pills flooded West Virginia, a generation of Appalachians grew up with a parent addicted or abusing drugs. Hear some of their stories on this week's classic episode of Inside Appalachia.

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A National Weather Service meteorologist called it a "1-in-1,000-year" storm. By the time it was over, 23 West Virginians were dead.

Flooding that ravaged the state in late June was voted the No. 1 news story in 2016 in West Virginia by Associated Press member newspapers and broadcasters.

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An Ohio man was accused of distributing an elephant sedative to people, which, according to federal prosecutors, resulted in about two dozen overdoses in a West Virginia city.

On Monday, prosecutors charged 22-year-old Bruce Lamar Griggs of Akron, Ohio, with distributing carfentanil and fentanyl, local news organizations reported.

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Kristina “Breezy” Weaver  lives in Wyoming County, which has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in a state that leads the country in drug overdose deaths. Last June, Weaver’s father died of a heroin overdose.

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For a generation of Appalachians, growing up with a parent addicted or abusing drugs is a way of life. On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear from men and women who have experienced the effects of opioid addiction and of the innocence that this epidemic has claimed.

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The sound of sirens in Cabell County, West Virginia, has a good chance of indicating an overdose these days.

The county’s Emergency Medical Service had responded to 622 overdose calls this year as of September 24, according to ES Director Gordon Merry. Last year it was more than 900 overdoses, which surpassed the total of the previous three years combined.

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The West Virginia Board of Education approved a policy last week allowing county school systems across the state to start stocking Naloxone—a medicine that reverses the effects of a drug overdose—in schools.

The Day 26 People Overdosed on Tainted Heroin

Aug 18, 2016
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On West Virginia Morning, Clark Davis has more from Huntington about the day 26 people overdosed on heroin in the span of four hours and West Virginia’s poet laureate Marc Harshman is along with this month’s poetry break. 

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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Fatal overdoses linked to a powerful opioid nearly tripled in West Virginia last year.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that overdoses caused by fentanyl increased from 55 deaths in 2014 to 154 deaths last year.

West Virginia's Bureau of Public Health commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta says people can overdose and die more quickly with fentanyl. The drug is an opioid that is sometimes laced with heroin and is stronger than prescription morphine.

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Unintentional fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased by almost six-fold in one year, beginning in 2013. Late last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health, analyzed available data to assess risk factors for overdose.

Yesterday, the CDC released a report that found the “risk factors for fentanyl-related overdose deaths included: male gender, white race, some college or less education, history of a substance abuse problem, and a
current mental health issue.”

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  Officials say more than 900 drug-related overdoses were reported in Cabell County in 2015.

Director of the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy Jim Johnson tells The Herald-Dispatch, that of those reported, 70 resulted in death.

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Turkey and travel. Those are the two major players in the average American's Thanksgiving, but with all of the talk of climate change, how big is the carbon footprint of your family's holiday feast?

And a new national report says West Virginia has the highest rate in the nation of youth overdose deaths.

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With President Obama’s visit to Charleston just two short weeks ago, people and organizations across the state have responded to the President’s call to fight drugs and overdose deaths in West Virginia.

On Wednesday, Governor Tomblin continues this fight and travels to Martinsburg to host a summit with law enforcement and the community on substance abuse in the area.

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Kanawha County is on track to record the most heroin overdose deaths in a single year.

Through July, the county had matched the number of heroin-related overdose deaths that occurred all of last year.

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