Drugs

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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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Health officials in West Virginia say a plan to combat the state's opioid crisis has been released for public comment.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
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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.

Opioids
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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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Throughout the Ohio Valley and West Virginia, thousands of children are in foster care -- and the opioid epidemic is sending thousands more to join them. In fact, in just the past year, West Virginia's foster care system alone saw an increase of 1,000 children entering care.

In 2016, West Virginia Public Broadcasting spoke with the Holbens, a former-foster family in Kearneysville, Jefferson County, to shed light on the struggles the opioid epidemic brings on foster care. We now check back in with that family and explore what lies ahead in combating this crisis.

Be sure to tune in for more on this subject during our nightly television program, The Legislature Today beginning January 11, 2018.

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The start of the 2018 state Legislative session is only one month away. Lawmakers in the Eastern Panhandle met in Martinsburg for a Legislative Outlook Breakfast hosted by the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce to discuss several issues they hope to tackle at the statehouse this year.

 

One focus is creating more ways to combat West Virginia’s opioid epidemic -- particularly how the crisis affects those in the state’s foster care system.

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is targeting opioid abuse in Appalachia by establishing a new field office in Kentucky to oversee a region ravaged by overdose deaths.

The new Louisville field office will have a special agent in charge to oversee investigations in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

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Two more West Virginia communities have joined others around the state in suing drug companies over the opioid epidemic.

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An annual prescription drug take-back event at West Virginia's Capitol is being expanded to two days this month.

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A West Virginia University researcher is working in two counties to apply lessons about peer groups from Iceland where he says teenage use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco has been "virtually eradicated."

Alfgeir Kristjansson, assistant professor in WVU's School of Public Health, says the island nation pushed to replace unsupervised, aimless leisure time with purposeful, organized activities that help them cope with stress, fill their need for camaraderie and provide a goal to pursue as a team.

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Another West Virginia county has been designated as an area with high drug trafficking.

Wood County, West Virginia and fifteen other counties nationwide are being added to the list of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

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Nearly $2 million in federal grants will help one West Virginia city combat a drug abuse epidemic.

The city of Huntington says in a news release that two grants will be used for a program that assists overdose victims within 72 hours.

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A proposed ordinance that targets property owners for repeated illegal incidents on their premises and evicts tenants has drawn opposition from West Virginia's American Civil Liberties Union chapter.

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Over $1 million in federal funding has been awarded to a project aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

The project is based in southern West Virginia, and it’s spearheaded by West Virginia University. The goal is to develop comprehensive ways to prevent and treat the consequences of opioid abuse, such as overdose, HIV, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases.

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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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West Virginia cities are considering ordinances targeting property owners for repeated illegal incidents on their premises.

Local news outlets report similar proposals in Huntington and Nitro follow the model of a Martinsburg drug house ordinance that went into effect in May and has since produced several busts.

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Three substance use disorder programs in West Virginia are receiving $1.6 million in funding from the state.

The funding was announced by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities.

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has organized another regional meeting with clergy in a faith-based initiative to involve more churches in dealing with drug abuse.

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A bill to legalize medical marijuana will be put to a vote in the House of Delegates Tuesday. Over the weekend, a handful of delegates from both sides of the aisle met with attorneys to discuss potential amendments to the Senate bill that were discussed in a late night floor session Monday. The bill has now taken a much different form than when it was approved in the state Senate just last week.

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A new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report analyzed health across West Virginia, categorizing each county as “most healthy” (Jefferson County) or “least healthy” (McDowell). A variety of factors contributed to a county’s health status, such as environment, access to resources, education and youth disconnection.

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