The West Virginia Opioid Epidemic

The abuse of opioids has become an impending epidemic in the United States. West Virginia is one state that has the scars to prove it. In 2014, the state recorded the highest drug overdose death rates in the country, according to the CDC. In August 2016, Cabell County had the worst numbers of overdose, as 26 cases were reported in a span of four hours. The Huntington Housing Complex was the nucleus of this disaster. One reason cited for this high number of overdoses is the use of heroin laced with fentanyl, a lethally potent synthetic opioid commonly used as an elephant tranquilizer. There have been almost 440 overdoses in Cabell County in 2016 alone with 26 fatalities.


Leading Causes of Drug Abuse


The increasing number of people suffering from heroin addiction in West Virginia can mainly be attributed to the failing economy in the region. West Virginia survived on the coal industry for a long time, but the last few years have seen it take a beating from the transition to renewable energy. Consequently, the cost of living is high and the unemployment rate is too. Such hopelessness, stress, and depression are reasons that individuals turn to substance abuse. These are the elements that a drug rehab center would seek to address when providing addiction treatment.


There is also the issue of opioid availability. According to local authorities, there has been an influx of synthetic opiates manufactured from the US, China, and Mexico. As the drugs become more available than before, the costs of buying them goes down. Additionally, young adults who don’t have means of supporting themselves indulge in the drug pushing business, and often, get high off their supply.


Perhaps the biggest factor to consider is how liberally prescribed prescription medication has become. West Virginia comes in third behind Alabama and Tennessee in the number of opioid prescriptions written for people. Over the past decade, there has been an introduction of very powerful painkillers on the market. Apparently, the pharmaceutical industry saw that there wasn’t enough treatment medications for pain, leading to the manufacture of drugs like Oxycontin. Powerful painkillers have laid the foundation for the abuse of illicit substances. This is why it is important that all drug rehab facilities first tackle the dependence on prescription medication.


In West Virginia, there are underlying factors in the abuse of prescription medication. Workers in the mining coal sector have to deal with a variety of injuries. With the lack of proper care in mining camps, painkillers become the first source of comfort for relief. As the injuries persist, so does the use of prescription medications, often leading to dependence. A worker who has lived on painkillers for a long time will have a hard time getting off them, which is why the professional intervention of a drug rehab clinic may be necessary.




Authorities in West Virginia have also taken the time to implement needle exchange programs in the region. Workers in the Department of Health incorporate addiction treatment center visits when addicts come in for their clean needles. By doing this, individuals are presented with an opportunity to see how the treatment works. It gives a viable baseline for someone considering going to an addiction recovery center.


The use of Narcan by EMTs is another solution that the authorities in West Virginia are practicing to reduce cases of overdose. Narcan is a prescription drug utilized to reverse the effects of an overdose by blocking opioids in the system, which a treatment similar to what a substance addiction facility would provide. Increasing access to addiction recovery facility services is another way to reduce overdoses. A substance abuse center provides more than just immediate treatment for a drug addict since it plans for the future as well, which is key to addiction recovery.


If you or anyone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call Right Path Drug Rehab for information about how you can set up a consultation at an addiction treatment center to begin your new life.

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