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WVPB's continuing coverage of the opioid crisis affecting West Virginia.Deaths related to opioid abuse have more than doubled in the past decade as millions of prescriptions flooded the state. Treatment programs have been overwhelmed as families struggle to cope with the fallout of addiction. These are the stories of West Virginians impacted by the opioid epidemic, and the struggle to combat the crisis.Across Appalachia, Thousands of Children are Affected by Opioid Addiction: Who’s Helping Them?West Virginia Sees Increase in 'Family' Sex Trafficking Related to Opioid EpidemicOpioid Epidemic Putting Thousands More in Foster Care

Study Finds Opioid Treatment Medications Underutilized

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A new study finds that medications used to treat opioid use disorder are greatly underutilized even though they’re proven to significantly reduce chances of opioid-related deaths. 


The study found that opioid overdose deaths decreased by nearly 60 percent in populations receiving methadone treatment and almost 40 percent for those receiving buprenorphine, compared to patients not receiving medication-assisted treatment. In other words, if someone struggling with addiction participates in a medication assisted treatment program, they’re a whole lot less likely to die from an overdose.

The study also found that only about one in threeoverdosed patients were provided with any medication-assisted treatment in the first year following that overdose. Also, within a year, more than a third of those people were subsequently prescribed one or more prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

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