Opioids

West Virginia’s highest court has ruled that evidence of illicit drugs in a newborn’s umbilical cord is sufficient to bring a child abuse proceeding against the mother and the father who knew about her drug use.

The Supreme Court says state law clearly seeks to protect a threatened or harmed child from the person inflicting the injury or one failing to meet the child’s needs.

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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.

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A southern West Virginia judge has ordered a physician to stop operating his practice as a pain clinic and prohibited him from prescribing narcotics including opioid painkillers.

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Veterans are two times more likely than the civilian population to develop an addiction to opioids. The Veterans Health Administration, or VA, released a new set of guidelines in 2013 called The Opioid Safety Initiative, which concluded that opioids are not the best treatment for most types of chronic pain. Instead, VA doctors are encouraged to first advise their patients to try alternative therapies, like yoga, physical therapy, and chiropractic care.

Inside Appalachia's Roxy Todd spent some time at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center to learn more about the Mindful Yoga class— one of the alternative therapies they offer veterans who are suffering with chronic pain. 


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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. 


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Taking a pill to ease chronic pain is easy, at least at first. But it comes with side effects – the most well-known of which is probably addiction. One alternative to opioids for chronic pain is physical therapy.

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It’s been about 20 years since the opioid epidemic first exploded across Appalachia, and now doctors are shifting away from prescribing opioids for long-term pain. 

But this shift away from pills has met resistance from some  doctors and patients.

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll hear why addiction hit Appalachia so hard. We'll also find out what the medical community is doing to fight the pain pill epidemic.

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A young mom – we’ll call her Patient A – is sitting on a couch holding her infant son at Karen’s Place, the newest in-patient treatment program for pregnant women in Louisa, Kentucky.

She smiles down at the healthy infant in her arms, then begins to talk about her older son – now 2½.

“He was actually born addicted,” she said.

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  A new state law authorizes school nurses and other trained and authorized personnel at West Virginia schools to administer drugs to counteract opioid overdoses by students without having to first contact parents.

The bill passed unanimously by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Jim Justice comes as West Virginia recorded 844 overdose deaths last year, more than 700 involving at least one opioid such as heroin, fentanyl or prescription painkillers.

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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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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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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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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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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.

Opioids
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The West Virginia House has approved legislation to establish stiffer prison sentences for trafficking in fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid sometimes added to heroin and blamed for many recent overdoses in the state.

Under the bill, trafficking in less than 5 grams of the narcotic could mean a felony with a minimum of two years and up to 10 years in prison.

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New research out of Johns Hopkins University has found that more than forty percent of people receiving medication for opioid addiction were also given prescriptions for other opioid painkillers during the time of treatment.

The researchers looked at pharmacy claims for more than 38,000 new buprenorphine users who filled prescriptions between 2006 and 2013 in 11 states. Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

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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.

Born Addicted: The Race To Treat The Ohio Valley’s Drug-Affected Babies

Feb 4, 2017
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She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

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