West Virginia has one of the highest rates in the country of non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in 19 to 25 year olds. Opioids are the number one cause of death associated with drug overdoses. The drug epidemic in this state knows no socioeconomic or geographic boundaries and continues to affect West Virginians from all walks of life.
Drugs are flooding into the state in a variety of ways. The supply is meeting the demand. The state economy also has suffered greatly, owing to prescription opioid abuse.
Substance abuse costs employers in West Virginia substantial amounts of money in terms of health care, workplace injuries, disability payments, and loss of productivity. It's often hard for companies to even find and retain qualified employees because of substance abuse issues.
Controlled prescription drug abuse and trafficking in West Virginia is widespread, and the state has one of the highest prescription rates for opioids in the entire span of the United States.
Statistics show that illicit pharmaceutical drug use contributed to approximately 61 percent of state overdose deaths in 2015. The extraordinarily high abuse rate of opioids is attributed in part to the large number of jobs in heavy manual labor such as mining, timbering, and manufacturing.
These professions often cause injuries to workers that are treated with opioid pain relievers, which in turn can lead to addiction. Yet another contributor is unemployment. As of March of 2016, West Virginia has the second-highest unemployment rate in the United States at 6.5 percent. Addiction professionals link joblessness with illegal drug use; prescription opioids such as Oxycodone, Opana, and Percocet represent the recreational drugs of choice.
Controlled pharmaceutical drug abusers and traffickers in West Virginia obtain the drugs from either licensed providers or out-of-state drug traffickers who have expanded into West Virginia.
In some instances, doctors and other health care providers, acting outside medical guidelines, write prescriptions for CPDs without a legitimate need on the part of the "patient." In other cases, the prescriptions are written by doctors in good faith, for unsuspected "doctor shoppers" who are providing for their own addictions, supplying pills to dealers, or both.
Pharmacies in West Virginia both wittingly and unwittingly fill fraudulent prescriptions. Some pharmacists fill legitimate prescriptions written by doctors who are known to be overprescribing CPDs, often for patients from out of state.
There have also been cases of pharmacy employees stealing CPDs and selling them to street dealers. Pharmacies are also targeted by robbers who steal drugs either to distribute themselves or to sell to larger distributors.
In the year of 2017, West Virginia providers wrote 81.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This was among the top ten rates in the United States that year (as per information sourced from the CDC).
Further compounding the prescription conundrum in West Virginia, the rate was also the lowest one in the state since data became available in 2006. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has also followed a decreasing trend from a peak of 27.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2011 to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017.
West Virginia has the highest age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2017, there were 833 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in West Virginia — a rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
This is the double the rate in 2010 and threefold higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The sharpest increase in opioid involved overdose deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly Fentanyl): a rise from 122 deaths in 2014 to 618 deaths in 2017. Deaths involving heroin also increased significantly in the same 3-year period: from 163 to 244 deaths. Prescription opioid-involved deaths decreased by 20% from 383 in 2014 to 304 in 2017
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. In the state of West Virginia, the rate of NAS/NOWS cases doubled in the 3-year period between 2011 and 2014, from 25.2 cases to 51.2 cases per 1,000 hospital births. The highest rates of NAS/NOWS were reported from Marshall and Lincoln counties (10.21 and 10.66 cases per 1,000 hospital births, respectively.
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 66 occurred in West Virginia. Among males, 18.8 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse (with prescription opioids playing a starring role). Among females, 15.4% of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
In 2015, an estimated 1,781 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in West Virginia — a rate of 113 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 19.4 percent of male cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 27.5% were living with HIV attributed to opioid abuse.
There were approximately 94 new cases of acute HCV (5.1 per 100,000 persons) reported in West Virginia in 2016 (CDC).In West Virginia, there are an estimated 20,800 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,430 cases per 100,000 persons. A significant amount of these is linked to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
As luck would have it (and owing to West Virginia building such an unsavory rep as a hub for opioid abuse), there are numerous centers of treatment and rehab. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in West Virginia, all you need to do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
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