A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Report found that across the United States, drug overdose deaths involving opioids continue to increase. And West Virginia still leads the nation in the number of overdose deaths, but the drug of choice seems to have changed from prescription opioids to synthetic opioids.
From 2016-2017 the percentage of prescription opioid-related deaths in West Virginia dropped almost 13 percent. But during the same time period, the deaths from all opioids, including heroin and methadone rose more than 14 percent. And the death rates from synthetic opioids other than methadone increased by more than 42 percent, which is actually close to the national average.
Nationally, in that same period, synthetic opioid-involved overdose death rates increased by more than 45 percent.
Officials say the data points to the urgent need for more integration of services and more aggressive prevention and treatment services.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.