Opioid Epidemic

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In Appalachian states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, the tough-on-crime policy announced Friday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions runs counter to a recent emphasis on treatment and less prison time for low-level drug offenders.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

It’s been about 20 years since the opioid epidemic started. Appalachia has been called ground zero for this crisis, and the Mountain State leads the country in drug overdose deaths. This episode of Inside Appalachia explores how the epidemic is affecting veterans, who are twice as likely to become addicted to opioids than the general, or civilian, population. 


Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Joe Manchin attended a town hall in South Charleston Thursday night, taking questions from West Virginians about anything from environmental regulations to Pres. Donald Trump’s policies on immigration. 

More than 300 people attended the town hall at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston where Manchin took audience questions for an hour and a half.

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Seven more municipalities across West Virginia are joining in on lawsuits against several drug distributors accused of fueling the local opioid epidemic by shipping far too many painkillers there.

WSAZ-TV reports that five of the plaintiffs are in the Tri-State and Kanawha Valley area: the cities of Logan, Montgomery, Summersville, the town of Wayne and Nicholas County.

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State funding to pay for indigent burials in West Virginia has run out five months before the end of the fiscal year, an official for a funeral directors group said.

Frederick Kitchen, West Virginia Funeral Directors Association president, told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that an increase in drug overdose deaths is to blame.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History

A West Virginia county has sued three prescription drug distributors alleging they fueled the local opioid epidemic by shipping far too many painkillers there.

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Marshall University is boosting its fight against the opioid addiction epidemic. The University has created a coalition to coordinate strategies with the city of Huntington, as well as a new research position to study treatment options for addicts. 

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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.

Patrick Morrisey, Mike DeWine, Andy Beshear
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

Attorneys General from Ohio and Kentucky joined West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in Huntington Thursday to discuss the opioid crisis plaguing all three states.

Attorneys General Mike DeWine, of Ohio, and Andy Beshear, of Kentucky, joined Morrisey at the New Life Church in Huntington. It’s one of a series of meetings being held to increase cross-border cooperation in finding solutions to problems stemming from the opioid epidemic. Beshear said the epidemic has touched everyone. 

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Additional federal dollars are coming to West Virginia to help combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' announcement was used to mark national Overdose Awareness Day.