The Damage Done - West Virginia's Opioid Epidemic

This ongoing series takes in-depth look at the opioid epidemic spreading across West Virginia. From the story of the addict who could no longer get prescription narcotics on the street, the emergency room physician who cares for overdose patients, and the lawmakers working to reverse the trend--these are the voices and stories of West Virginians impacted by opioids.

Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

After decades of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids, Wendy Crites finally made a clean break.

“For the first time in my life I just wanted to be off of it,” she said from her home in Ranson, West Virginia. “I hit rock bottom.”

ARC and NORC at Univ. of Chicago

President Donald Trump’s call to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers grabbed headlines Monday. But public health officials within the Trump administration are stressing other elements of the president’s plan to address the opioid crisis.

Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, outlined her agency’s plans for the Ohio Valley, which has some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

University of Charleston and the Governor’s Mansion will house screenings of Oscar-nominated documentary, Heroin(e), directed and produced by West Virginia native, Elaine McMillion Sheldon.

The screening will be held 7-8:30 pm, Thursday February 15 at the University of Charleston Auditorium. There is no charge to attend. RSVP on Facebook here

Shayla Klein / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Deaths related to opioid abuse in West Virginia have more than doubled in the past decade, according to the most recent data from the West Virginia Health Statistics Center.

Opioid deaths in W.Va. have risen from 369 in 2006 to 756 in 2016. The last couple years have seen a large spike, with the difference between 2015 and 2016 being 116 deaths.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, reporter Dave Mistich chats with the director of academy award nominated film, Heroin(e). We also hear a story about medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Pennsylvania and the economic impact that could bring.

Who Overdoses and Why?

Jan 26, 2018

Most people who overdose on opioids have seen a health care provider in the last year, and many had recently been released from jail, according to a new study from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

This suggests that overdoses can be prevented with the right intervention.

Here are some of the findings, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The Legislature Today host Andrea Lannom speaks with Barry Cook, director of the West Virginia Division of Forestry to talk about a controversial bill that would open many state parks to logging.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The Legislature Today host Andrea Lannom speaks with John Deskins, the director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, about the state’s economy – the hits it's taken, the challenges still ahead and the investments needed to make desired returns. We have a portion of the that interview, which was taped live from the Capitol on Tuesday evening.

Trump Renews Opioid Emergency As Democrats Seek More Funding For Crisis

Jan 22, 2018
Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press file photo

The Trump administration has extended its public health emergency on the opioid crisis. The move came just days before the original declaration signed in October was set to expire.

Acting Health And Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan signed an order Friday to extend the public health emergency for another 90 days. In a post on the agency’s website Hargan cited the continued consequences of the opioid crisis.

Adobe Stock

On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll learn more about how children are being affected by the opioid epidemic and what’s being done to help them. 


Kermit, WV
Chuck Roberts

As the opioid epidemic continues to kill people across the country, local governments are struggling to get a handle on the problem. More and more, states and municipalities are filing suit against pharmaceutical companies. That trend started right here, in the place that’s known as the “epicenter” of the opioid crisis. 

Survey Reveals Changing Attitudes about Opioids

Jan 19, 2018
Hydrocodone pills
Toby Talbot / AP

A new survey of likely West Virginia voters on the issues expected to come up during this year’s legislative session included some striking views on the state’s opioid epidemic.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Donald Trump has helped put the national spotlight on the Ohio Valley’s opioid crisis. But his record of action on the issue is mixed. As part of the series, One Year, Under Trump, Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Aaron Payne reports that public health officials in the region say they need more funding to back up the president’s promises.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The number of West Virginians who have died of opioid-related drug overdoses has climbed drastically every year for the past five years. West Virginia lawmakers say getting a handle on the state’s opioid epidemic is one of their top legislative priorities.

On The Legislature Today, we bring you a special focus on West Virginia’s opioid epidemic. First, we take you to the small town of Kermit where the tragic toll of the epidemic has weighed heavily on residents, and then, host Andrea Lannom chats with two lawmakers who outline legislation addressing the issue on multiple fronts.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors
Dollar Photo Club

Updated Friday January 12 at 4:18 p.m.

State health officials are proposing a multifaceted plan for confronting the drug crisis killing hundreds of West Virginians each year, one that would require action by everyone from lawmakers to doctors to judges to emergency responders to the general public.

Dollar Photo Club

Health officials in West Virginia say a plan to combat the state's opioid crisis has been released for public comment.

Perry Bennett / Legislative Photography

Gov. Justice’s second State of the State made full use of several props, two whiteboards and his entire girls’ basketball team.

Justice also laid out what he thought was really important in his speech. Here are two themes I heard: finally turning the corner on the opioid epidemic, and helping young people find technical and vocational careers.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
Dollar Photo Club

A West Virginia University researcher says the official U.S. suicide rate, which rose 34 percent from 2000 to 2016, fails to include many people who kill themselves purposely with drugs.

Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

A federal judge on Tuesday likened the nation's opioid epidemic to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic while noting the drug crisis is "100 percent manmade."

Judge Dan Polster urged participants on all sides of lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths. He said the issue has come to courts because "other branches of government have punted" it.

Us & Them : His Name's DJ

Dec 6, 2017
Mitch Hanley

We revisit the story of “Steve,” a young New Hampshire man that we met back in the spring of 2016. In our episode called “The Changing Face of Heroin,” we followed him and his father as he reported for the last visit of a court ordered drug rehab program. As you can imagine, kicking a powerful opioid habit isn’t easy, but in many ways our guy remained committed to the program.

Prescriptions, Pills, Drugs, Prescription
U.S. Air Force

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Thursday steps for an opioid response plan to combat the opioid epidemic. DHHR is asking West Virginians to help develop the plan through public comment and recommendations over the next 15 days.

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
Pixabay

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is targeting opioid abuse in Appalachia by establishing a new field office in Kentucky to oversee a region ravaged by overdose deaths.

The new Louisville field office will have a special agent in charge to oversee investigations in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia University's chief economist estimates the opioid epidemic has cost the state economy nearly $1 billion from deaths, lost or underperformed jobs and public resources.

Can West Virginia Shift Its Attitude Toward the Opioid Crisis?

Nov 28, 2017
Dollar Photo Club

Shawna Hardy grew up in the early 80s “on the hill.” That’s how family referred to her Grandma Helen’s property, a quasi-farm situated atop a steep hill in North-Central West Virginia. Her family lived in a trailer next to Grandma Helen, separated by a large field outlined with thick aluminum fencing that held a chicken coop, a salt lick for the cows, and a small barn for a temperamental palomino named Golden Boy.

Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Two more West Virginia communities have joined others around the state in suing drug companies over the opioid epidemic.

Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Several West Virginia municipalities are suing The Joint Commission, claiming the Chicago-based health care accreditation group downplayed the dangers of prescription painkillers and helped fuel addictions.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the cities of Charleston, Huntington and Kenova and the town of Ceredo filed the class-action lawsuit Thursday in Charleston.

Opioid Emergency: How Trump’s Plan Will -- And Won’t -- Help The Ohio Valley

Oct 30, 2017
Courtesy White House Video

As bad as the opioid epidemic is across the nation, it is even worse here in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have a rate of opioid-related deaths that is more than twice the national average.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, now that President Trump has officially declared the opioid crisis a health emergency, many people are wondering how that will help in the nation’s hardest-hit region: The Ohio Valley. Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have an overdose death rate that is twice the national average. 
Aaron Payne reports on some potentially helpful parts of the President’s plan and one big thing that’s missing.

Kara Lofton/ WVPB

About 2.5 million children in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents or relatives other than their birth parents.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear a special series about grandparents raising grandchildren. Many are taking care of grandchildren who would otherwise be put in foster care, but the arrangement can be difficult for the grandparents themselves.


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