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.

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Not everyone looks at the increased availability of alcoholic beverages quite the same way. Some people struggle with it. Alcohol is, after all, a socially acceptable, legal drug.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Virginia officials say the state’s passion for sports can be used to influence young people to learn about opioid use disorder and help prevent the next generation from entering the epidemic. 

That’s according to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, which on Tuesday announced the upcoming WVSSAC-MVB Bank Opioid Awareness Summit.

Serenity Hills Life Center

A new residential recovery center is opening its doors in Wheeling this June. The Serenity Hills Life Center will host an open house for the public this week.

Working Toward Recovery: Ohio Town Fights Addiction with Focus on Economy

May 28, 2019
Chillicothe Street in Downtown Portsmouth.
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

Addiction specialists, business leaders, law enforcement officials and other community members gathered around tables at Shawnee State University to talk about two big challenges in Scioto County, Ohio: a shrinking economy and a growing addiction crisis.

Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley Co., WV
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

A Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling.

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

A dozen new hypodermic needles are given to a man who disposed of 12 used needles at a clinic, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty / AP file photo

“They made me feel like I was a person.”

That’s what a 40-year-old man told researchers from Johns Hopkins University about a now-closed syringe services program in the heart of central Appalachia.

Poll: Addiction, Affordability and Access Top Health Concerns in Rural America

May 22, 2019
Dr. Albert Warren consults with a patient and records the patient’s symptoms on an electronic tablet in Hawkinsville, Georgia.
Bob Nichols / USDA

More than four in 10 adults living in rural Appalachia cite drug abuse as the biggest issue facing their communities, according to “Life in Rural America: Part II,” a report released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from a telephone survey of 1,405 adults living in the rural U.S.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

This is the first story in an occasional series exploring the links between addiction recovery and a recovering economy.

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal.

Appalachian Regional Commission Announces Plan to Build ‘Recovery Ecosystem’

May 17, 2019
The Appalachia Regional Commission held six listening sessions throughout the region, including a March session in Pineville, Ky.
Courtesy Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is shifting its focus toward recovery. 

The organization, led by the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair appointed by the president, announced this week the creation of its Substance Abuse Advisory Council. The 24-member group consists of representatives from communities throughout the region who will “develop recommendations for ARC to consider as part of a strategic plan to build and strengthen a recovery ecosystem in Appalachian communities by drawing on their own experiences.”

oxycontin
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Five more state attorney generals have announced they have filed suit against the manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin and it’s former chief executive.

 

West Virginia’s suit, announced Thursday by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, alleges that the Purdue Pharma used unlawful marketing tactics that fueled a scourge of opioid addiction and related deaths.

John Raby / AP Photo

Two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates are urging the state’s attorney general to put money from a recently announced settlement with a pharmaceutical distributor towards substance abuse treatment.

Del. Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) and Del. Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha) sent a letter Friday to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asking for the $37 million settlement with drug distributor McKesson Corporation to be deposited in the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund.

Fentanyl-related Deaths Are the Highest in W.Va. This Is What They’re Doing about It.

Apr 30, 2019
Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

West Virginia has the highest per-capita drug-overdose death rate in the country. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a recent decline in overall drug overdose deaths nationwide, deaths involving fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, are on the rise. West Virginia leads the nation in that rate as well.

Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace

Like a slow-motion tsunami, the opioid epidemic continues to claim the lives of our friends and neighbors. Four of the top five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths are here, in Appalachia.

The drug epidemic is changing, but it’s not going away. People are still fighting for their loved ones and communities. This episode of Inside Appalachia looks at traditional and innovative ways law enforcement is tackling the challenge. And we’ll hear from people who end up behind bars anyway, as they struggle with substance use disorder.


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The opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges in our region today. One strategy that’s been proved to help curb the epidemic’s worst effects is to implement harm reduction programs, which include a variety of services. One of the most controversial is a component called needle exchange. 


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A total of $14,630,361 has been awarded to West Virginia by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid epidemic.

West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito made the announcement in a press release Thursday.

Wirt County is employing many tactics to try to cultivate a more compassionate, learning-ready environment; among them: the Whole Child Health Project.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state faces complex ripple effects as a result of the opioid crisis. Among them, educators anecdotally report suspension rate increases in kindergarten classes, and a generation of babies born dependent on substances now being introduced to Head Start programs throughout the region.

Public school teachers and staff staged a statewide walk-in earlier this year to bring attention to what they say is a dire need for in-school mental health support. Many counties have already mobilized efforts to support students and help teachers who are not trained to cope with the increased number of traumatized youths disrupting the learning environment, including Wirt County.


Assistant News Director Glynis Board leads a discussion on the impacts and trauma the opioid epidemic has inflicted on West Virginia’s youth, and host Suzanne Higgins chats with Senior Statehouse Reporter Dave Mistich for an update on some of the day’s major stories.

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A new study has found that long-term unemployment and a shortage of mental health providers is associated with higher levels of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The study was published this week in the journal of the American Medical Association. It looked at how county economic factors – particularly unemployment rates – were related to the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS. NAS happens when a baby withdraws from drugs they were exposed to in the womb.

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On set for the Legislature Today, health reporter Kara Lofton spoke with Bob Hansen, the new director for the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, and Brian Gallagher, chair of the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse, Prevention and Treatment about what’s being done to help get a handle on West Virginia’s opioid crisis. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.

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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.

West Virginia has the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But at least as many people in the state die from alcohol each year. To say nothing of tobacco. As part of an ongoing project at West Virginia Public Broadcasting focused on confronting the addiction crisis, we’re occasionally sharing individual recovery stories here on West Virginia Morning. Glynis Board spoke with Bill Hogan - a man whose wife, by the way, is a member of our Friend’s Board.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This West Virginia Morning, we have another segment in an occasional series called Recovery Stories –– conversations from the heart of the nation’s opioid crisis. Today, we hear a conversation between Dustin Aubrey and Bob Lloyd. They first met at a Dayton, Ohio, support group. Dustin’s in recovery. And Bob’s adult son struggles with substance use disorder.

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When the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department closed its harm reduction programs, one of the biggest criticisms of the program was that it led to an increase in crime, vagrancy and homelessness. Those claims are not without merit.

 

 


Ashton Marra

Current best practices for harm reduction programs include a couple provisions: No retractable needles should be distributed, patients should get as many needles as possible regardless of how many they bring back, and barriers to accessing needles should be as low as possible. But sometimes those recommendations are at odds with community acceptance for the practices.

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Less than two years after it began, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department shut down it’s harm reduction program. Among other things, the program provided thousands of clean needles to drug users with the goal of reducing needle borne diseases, but faced significant pushback from some in the community.  

Todd Huffman via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Best practices for harm reduction programs call for flooding a community with clean hypodermic syringes. Research shows that in addition to reducing the prevalence of blood-borne pathogens in the community, well-run programs help remove potentially infectious syringes from the community. But some people say that wasn’t happening in Charleston.


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In December  2015, with support from the city of Charleston, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department launched a harm-reduction program that included a needle exchange. The primary goal was to reduce the risk of diseases commonly spread by sharing needles.

WVU Medicine - Ruby
WVU Medicine

West Virginia University Medicine says it plans to open a new residential addiction treatment facility in March.

WVU Medicine spokeswoman Amy Johns told The Dominion Post said officials expect to start accepting patients at the $12 million facility in Morgantown.

On a 90-degree afternoon in July, under the shade of a tree in Philadelphia's McPherson Square Park, I watched a couple sit down, prepare syringes and inject drugs.

The man injected in his arm, the woman in her neck.

I observed them from about a hundred feet away, where I was getting ready to film an interview with someone else.

After they had finished, the woman rested against the man. She was splayed out on top of the man with her neck tilted back, her mouth open.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear another story from our ongoing project focused on confronting the addiction crisis in our region. Assistant News Director Glynis Board spoke with Bill Hogan who shares his recovery story.

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