Opioid Abuse

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, 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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore attempts to finding solutions to the region’s opioid epidemic, and we hear a story from the Ohio Valley ReSource on the potential impacts of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

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Dr. Michael Brumage, former executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, has been named director of the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy. 

Brumage replaces director Jim Johnson who retired from the position in January. In a press release, Governor Jim Justice said he’s confident that Brumage is the right person to tackle West Virginia’s opioid crisis.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Donald Trump addressed the opioid crisis affecting the Ohio Valley region in his first State of the Union address. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Aaron Payne reports that while Trump mentioned expanding addiction treatment, he and his administration are emphasizing a law-and-order approach to the crisis in the second year of his presidency.

On The Legislature Today, we chat with state Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch about a massive reorganization bill that was introduced in the House of Delegates. The bill would divide DHHR into four separate agencies.

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.

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

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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.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

  Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
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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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Updated on Friday, November 3 at 2:39 p.m.

West Virginia police say lab results on a substance found in a child's trick-or-treat bag came back as a derivative of marijuana, not heroin as originally thought.

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At the Epsworth United Methodist Church in Ripley, West Virginia, five grandparents sit around a table listening to a speaker tell them, “You are not alone.”

 

 

Although prayer is mentioned frequently at the meeting, religion is not the subject of today’s conversation - rather, how to communicate with grandchildren after grandparents are thrust into the role of primary caregivers.

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday it will award $144 million in grants across the country to prevent and treat opioid addiction. But West Virginia won’t see any of it.

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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.

Sam Owens / Associated Press

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the importance of prevention at a stop in Charleston Thursday before a summit on the opioid epidemic. 

Sessions gave the opening remarks at the West Virginia Opioid Summit at the University of Charleston Thursday morning. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate is two and a half times the national average, the highest in the country. Last year, 864 West Virginians died from an overdose, up by more than 17 percent from the year prior.

 

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Sec. Bill Crouch shared those statistics at a press conference Tuesday. Crouch hosted U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price for a closed-door meeting about the state’s struggle with substance abuse and what the federal government can do to help.

Hydrocodone pills
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With more than 30,000 West Virginians already in drug treatment, lawmakers have voted to spend $24 million from recent court settlements with opioid distributors increase inpatient beds to help address the state's addiction crisis.

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Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office released a report that analyzes the House of Representative's proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The office projects that the new bill would leave 24 million people uninsured by 2026.

Such an increase could have big consequences for the more than 2 million people addicted to pain medication across the United States, including more than 200,000 in the Ohio Valley Region. 

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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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More than 22,000 West Virginians with substance use disorders have gained health coverage through Medicaid Expansion, according to a report released earlier this month in National Health Law Program. Medicaid Expansion was a voluntary provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Opioids
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A southern West Virginia town has joined other communities in seeking to recoup the costs of dealing with opioid abuse.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the McDowell County town of Welch filed a lawsuit Monday against several out-of-state drug distributors.

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Two West Virginia towns seeking to recoup the costs of dealing with opioid abuse are suing out-of-state drug distributors.

The separate lawsuits seeking unspecified damages were filed by the Mingo County community of Kermit and the Nicholas County town of Richwood.

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A West Virginia Board of Pharmacy report says a prescription drug used to treat nerve pain is contributing to a sharp increase of overdose deaths in the state.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the number of fatal overdoses involving gabapentin in West Virginia jumped from three in 2010 to 109 in 2015. The number of 2016 deaths are still being counted.

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A recent study published in the international pain journal PAIN has found that patients with pre-existing psychiatric and behavioral conditions may be more likely to use opioids later in life.

Researchers used a national insurance database to identify 10.3 million patents who filed insurance claims for opioid prescriptions over a nine-year period. Researchers wanted to see if pre-existing psychiatric conditions and use of psychoactive medications were predictors of later opioid use.

WVPA

Drug wholesalers sent 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia over six years, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Meanwhile, 1,728 West Virginians died from overdoses of these two powerful painkillers.

Who let it happen? Investigative reporter Eric Eyre, of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, answered our questions about his series on The Front Porch.

Groups Come Together, Offer Insight on Opioid Fight

Dec 13, 2016
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The group West Virginians for Affordable Health Care hosted a conference Tuesday at Marshall University focused on the state's opioid epidemic.

The conference titled “Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic,” brought together groups from all over the state as well as national experts to discuss ways of dealing with the epidemic. Groups like the Cabell-Huntington Health Department presented their needle exchange effort and Martinsburg Police presented their Martinsburg Initiative. Dr. Anita Everett is the Chief Medical Officer for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and she was the featured speaker. Everett said it’s great to a see a state of communities trying new things and wanting to work together.

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For a generation of Appalachians, growing up with a parent addicted or abusing drugs is a way of life. Kristina Weaver, or Breezie, grew up in southern West Virginia with a loving family and father who struggled with addiction. Her father, David Siers, died in June of 2015 of a heroin overdose.


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Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday that starting in January, doctors who prescribe pain pills will be required to follow federal prescribing guidelines. 

The move was made in an attempt to lower state overuse and abuse rates. According to Rahul Gupta, the West Virginia state health officer and the commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia has the highest rate of prescription opioids per capita in the nation. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been about 15 years since the opioid epidemic first hit Appalachia, and now, there’s a whole generation of teenagers in West Virginia and Kentucky who have grown up with drug addiction strongly affecting their friends and families. 

Carrie Mullens is a novelist from Eastern Kentucky who returned from college to find that her community had been devastated by the drug epidemic. Mullens spoke with Roxy Todd about her coming-of-age novel based on the frightening realities facing many young Appalachians.   

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