The Front Porch: Who's to Blame for Appalachia's Drug Addiction?


West Virginia has the nation’s worst rate of drug overdose deaths. It started with prescription painkillers, and now is increasingly fueled by heroin.

On this week’s “The Front Porch,” we debate what’s causing the epidemic, and what might actually work in curbing it.

We speak with Ashley, a recovering heroin addict about why she began using, how she got clean, and the struggles to remain sober for her three kids.

We also ask whether society is ready to treat addiction as a health issue, or whether we are still quick to make moral judgments about people with drug addictions.

Finally, we debate what’s at fault:

– An unwillingness by state and federal officials to pay for treatment, even if it is less expensive and more effective than jailing addicts

– Prescription drug companies, for marketing painkillers heavily in the region (West Virginia consumes more prescription painkillers per capita than any other state)

– Workers Comp, for only paying for cheaper drugs and not expensive physical therapy for injured workers

– Drug dealers, who profit from peddling misery

– People who give drugs to people who then overdose (and should they be charged with felony murder?)

– People with addiction (what about personal responsibility?)

– A general sense of hopelessness in our region that leads to more drug abuse

Click here to see West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s series on heroin.

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An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available above.

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