Shepherd Snyder Published

W.Va. Overdose Deaths Decrease Over 12-Month Span

Syringes of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, sit in an inpatient facility in Salt Lake City. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid-related overdoses have contributed to the life expectancy drop in the U.S.

A new report from the CDC says West Virginia’s rate of overdose deaths is beginning to decline.

The report says the state’s rate decreased by more than 3 percent from March 2021 to March 2022. It’s the second largest drop in overdose deaths by state in the country, behind only Virginia.

Previously, the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy reported a similar decrease of monthly overdose deaths from April 2021 through September 2021 last March.

Director of the state agency, Matthew Christiansen, says the decrease comes after an uptick in overdose deaths during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As things have opened back up, treatment, accessibility has opened up as well, which was an issue early on in the pandemic,” Christiansen said. “But what we really saw during the pandemic was a shift in supply from heroin over to the much more potent and poisonous fentanyl. I don’t anticipate that that will go back to a less potent substance when the pandemic subsides.”

Christiansen recommends those suffering from substance use disorder to call the state’s HELP4WV help line.

“It’s a one stop shop, really, for getting in touch with peer recovery support specialists, counselors, therapists and also getting referred to treatment,” Christiansen said.

These resources are available by calling 844-HELP4WV, texting 844-435-7498, or visiting the program’s website.

The Office of Drug Control Policy’s website also features a map of where to find local resources, including crisis stabilization units, recovery residences and treatment programs.