Recovery

 

RECOVERY from substance use disorder is possible, and help is available -
West Virginia Public Broadcasting launches new focus

 

We’ve read the staggering statistics, but more tragically we’ve seen, and many have experienced, the human devastation caused by substance use disorder.

We’ve met incredibly inspiring West Virginians living in recovery -  and the healthcare professionals, family members, friends, first responders, law officers, social service agencies, employers, and engaged citizens who have supported them along the way.

We want to share their stories – their reflections, their messages, their hopes, relapses and successes - and convene meaningful dialogue.

WVPB has gathered a group of some of the most active professionals addressing West Virginia’s opioid crisis, who have helped us identify and shape our Recovery focus. Together we'll be sponsoring community events across the state, and spreading the message that help is available by calling the toll free number 1-844-HELP4WV.

Explore this Youtube playlist of Recovery stories 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting believes through community engagement it can play a role in fostering a better understanding of substance use disorder, breaking down stigma, helping West Virginia communities become more proficient at prevention, encouraging treatment, and supporting recovery.

Understanding and compassion are key.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In Clay, downtown Main Street is maybe a half mile long.  Amid shuttered storefronts, the two most prominent stores are Family Dollar and the Dollar Tree. 

 

Like the rest of southern West Virginia, the opioid epidemic has hit Clay hard.

 

 

“I would venture to guess that every single student in this entire school has been affected by addiction in some way,” said Leslie Osborne, the school counselor.

Rural Americans Increasingly Concerned About Opioid Addiction, Study Finds

Jan 10, 2020
oxycontin
Toby Talbot / Associated Press file photo

Researchers at Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that rural Americans identified drug addiction and economic concerns as the most serious problems facing their communities. 

The open-ended survey of 2700 rural adults aimed to identify the major concerns of rural voters, and found that 25 percent of rural Americans said drug addiction was their biggest concern for their community, and 21 percent said the same about economic concerns. The striking results illustrate the dramatic toll of addiction on rural communities, which have generally struggled to recover from the 2009 recession.

Updated at 1:22 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma pulled billions of dollars from the company after introducing its signature opioid medication, OxyContin, growing personally wealthy as the heavily marketed drug took on a significant role in a nationwide addiction crisis.

When Matthew Braun gets out of medical school, he'll be able to prescribe opioids.

A decade ago, he was addicted to them.

"The first time I ever used an opioid, I felt the most confident and powerful I'd ever felt," Braun says. "So I said, 'This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.' "

Opioids took away his anxiety, his inhibitions, his depression. And they were easy to get.

"I just started breaking into houses," Braun says. "I found it amazing how trusting people were in leaving windows open and doors unlocked, and I found a lot of prescriptions."

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the Crossroads Recovery Home in Gilbert, West Virginia, the residents — all women — can have as much of a leadership role as the case managers and other staffers helping them.

In this Aug. 17, 2018 file photo, family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses protest outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Jessica Hill / Associated Press File Photo

A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday agreed to keep nearly 2,700 lawsuits against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and hundreds more against the family members who own the company on hold until at least April so the sides can keep working toward a settlement.

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Roger Dodd (right) speaks to fellow members of PITAR in Petersburg, W.Va. at its October 2019 meeting.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 


In order to help people struggling with addiction, some communities are taking steps to think outside the box. 

The Potomac Highlands region of the Eastern Panhandle has brought together law enforcement, faith-based organizations and community members. The goal is to create one robust network of support in this rural region for people struggling with substance use disorder. 

The network strives to combat stigma and offer a safety net that, for some, say feels like a family.

How Should Opioid Lawsuit Money Be Spent? Ohio Valley Has No Shortage Of Needs

Oct 21, 2019
Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley County, W.Va.
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource file photo

At a town hall event in Logan, Ohio, Kelly Taulbee walks through the steps of an encounter with someone experiencing an opioid overdose. She's training a group to use NARCAN, the opioid reversal medication. She pulled out the small applicator and demonstrated how easy it is to spray the medication in someone’s nose.

As the director of nursing for the Hocking County health department, she understands the importance of this life-saving medicine.

“It is simple. It is safe. It is effective,” she said.

But she also knows that NARCAN is just one of many tools needed to respond to a crisis that has grown to affect nearly every aspect of life in this rural corner of southern Ohio.

State leaders — including Gov. Jim Justice — gathered Tuesday afternoon outside the Putnam County Career and Technical Center to unveil a new initiative that combines free substance abuse treatment with free job training.

Flynn Larsen/Sesame Workshop/AP

Sesame Street has a history of tackling big issues.

Last week, they launched a new short film to help kids going through tough times when their parents are struggling with addiction.

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Public forums will be held starting this week on a statewide response to substance abuse in West Virginia.

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As many American parents struggle with opioid addiction, the number of children put into foster care in the U.S. is steadily increasing. 

In West Virginia, the foster care system has been hit particularly hard; roughly 6,700 children in the state are in foster care, an increase of almost 70% in six years. 


The Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center is located on Wilson Street in Martinsburg, W.Va. It opened in October 2018. Paloma is the first facility to offer overnight services in the Eastern Panhandle since the 1990s.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


It’s been one year since the Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center opened in Martinsburg. The facility is the first of its kind in the Eastern Panhandle in more than two decades. 

The Center is open 24/7 and offers in-patient, or overnight services for people suffering from substance use disorder. The launch of the 16-bed facility hit some bumps in the beginning, but it’s remained open and has helped more than 250 people find recovery.

A Virginia doctor received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday for illegally prescribing more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers operated a "pill mill" out of Martinsville, Va., located about 15 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border and about 175 miles southwest of Richmond.

Johnson & Johnson and two Ohio counties have reached a tentative $20.4 million settlement that removes the corporation from the first federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month.

Paul Williams (left) helps Scott build his 'backpack' guitar. It has a smaller body, meant to easily fit in a pack.
Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It is a hot, late summer night in the small town of Hindman, Kentucky. The sun is setting against the backdrop of the steep Appalachian Mountains. Musicians are warming up for the Knott County Downtown Radio Hour. 

It is essentially a recorded open mic hosted once a month by the Appalachian School of Luthiery, a school that teaches people how to build wooden stringed instruments. Doug Naselroad is the founder and the master luthier of the program.


Schools Seek Ways To Help Children Exposed To Drugs In The Womb

Sep 23, 2019
White House

Students line up single file behind teachers at West Elementary in Athens, Ohio, for. the walk downhill from the brick building to board buses or meet up with the person taking them home.

Some talk about their day, others run off to the playground and some discuss the latest Pokémon movie. A chant for the yellow, electric mouse Pikachu breaks out.

It’s a scene familiar to Tom Gibbs, the superintendent of the Athens City School District, who’s making sure these and the nearly 3,000 other students he watches over make it home safely.

Photo: Jess Mador/100 Days in Appalachia

One-month-old Cayden wakes with a fierce cry and clenched fists as a nurse places her on a metal scale to check her weight. When she was born, the infant, now dressed in tiny pink socks, flowery leggings and a bright yellow polkadot top, weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome. 

“Have you noticed any tremors, tight muscles?” Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Amber Knapper asked Cayden’s mother. 

Tight muscles and tremors are among a long list of symptoms connected to neonatal abstinence syndrome, commonly known as NAS, a condition where babies are born in withdrawal from opioid drugs their mothers used during pregnancy. 


Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

Life as empty nesters was on the horizon for Lisa Robbins and her husband Brent. They had raised two children and were enjoying helping them with their two grandchildren. But in 2016, police arrested Lisa’s daughter, Mollie Ogle. 

“She got caught using drugs, shooting up in her vehicle in a convenience store parking lot,” Lisa said. “And so she went to jail."


Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis.

The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.

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Fayette County has been designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. The designation allows for more resources to combat the opioid epidemic.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, has agreed to give up "the entire value" of the privately owned firm to settle claims that Purdue played a central role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

That's according to a spokesperson for the firm, who detailed the Sackler family's offer in an email sent to NPR on Monday.

"Additionally, the Sacklers have offered $3 billion in cash as part of the global resolution," wrote Josephine Martin, Purdue Pharma's head of corporate affairs and communications.

The Appalachian Regional Commission held six recovery-to-work listening sessions throughout the region, including this session in March in Pineville, Kentucky.
Courtesy Appalachian Regional Commission

 


The Appalachian Regional Commission put the stamp of approval this week on recommendations to help people struggling with substance use disorder get back into the workforce.

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New West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources data suggests fatal drug overdose deaths might be leveling off or even decreasing slightly.

The preliminary data from 2018 suggests a 6 percent decline in overdose deaths from 2017, according to a press release.

Opioids are still the most common type of drugs seen in overdose deaths, with the most deaths coming from Fentanyl and heroin. 

Those numbers are decreasing, though. 

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced more than 1.8 billion dollars in funding to states and territories for combating the opioid epidemic.

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Confronted with a torrent of lawsuits across the U.S., several major drug companies are in discussions with authorities to resolve thousands of opioid-related suits filed against them. A government source close to the negotiations tells NPR that Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and Allergan are looking to cut deals.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state's opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Oklahoma sought $17.5 billion, blaming Johnson & Johnson for fueling the crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the state.

Gee delivers his 2017 State of the University address.
West Virginia University

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are creating a nonprofit that will fight to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars.

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