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.

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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.

Rural Americans are profoundly worried about the opioid crisis and their local economies and many are hoping government can help, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The Doctor And The Epidemic: Three Years At Ground Zero Of The Opioid Crisis

Oct 15, 2018
Ashton Marra / WVPB

When Dr. Rahul Gupta started work as West Virginia’s chief health officer his state was already ground zero for the opioid epidemic, with some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose fatalities.

That was 2015, and 735 state residents died from overdoses that year. 

Preliminary data for 2017 show there were 1,011 overdose deaths last year, a record high for the state.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Monring, the nation’s opioid crisis hit first and hardest in the Ohio Valley. West Virginia, in particular, has suffered some of the highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths in the country. As the state’s public health commissioner, Dr. Rahul Gupta has been the point person in the state’s fight against the epidemic. After three years in that position, Gupta is leaving next month.  
The Ohio Valley ReSource's Aaron Payne spoke with Gupta about his time at the center of the opioid crisis.

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West Virginia is in crisis. As the opioid epidemic grows, we are producing a generation of children impacted by addiction. In October of 2018, more than 6600 children were in the foster care system. And as of May 2018, 83% of open child abuse/neglect cases involved drugs.

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U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced Thursday a takedown of drug traffickers in Parkersburg that resulted in the seizure of more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine and 4 pounds of heroin. Officials say this is the largest seizure of methamphetamine in West Virginia’s history.

Stuart said the takedown resulted in the dismantling of a multi-state drug trafficking organization that was distributing meth and heroin in Parkersburg.

NOVA

Tonight, the University of Charleston and West Virginia Public Broadcasting are sponsoring a free screening of the upcoming PBS NOVA special entitled ADDICTION, at Geary Auditorium on the U.C. campus. The one-hour film begins at 7pm and will be followed by a panel discussion with NOVA filmmakers.

NOVA producer Sarah Holt and her camera crew spent months in West Virginia, capturing the state’s struggle with the opioid epidemic, and feature it prominently in the program which airs nationally on Oct. 17.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a recent round table discussion about West Virginia Kids Health as it relates to the opioid epidemic, Harrison County prosecuting attorney Rachel Romano spoke with Kara Lofton about her work, the juvenile justice system and potential solutions for keeping West Virginia’s kids out of the court. 

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.”

The infectious liver disease hepatitis A has hit Appalachia hard during the past several months. But your risk of contracting the disease depends on several factors.  

“So it’s very important to understand that there are certain groups of people that are at increased risk, as opposed to the general population,” West Virginia commissioner of public health Rahul Gupta said.  

 


The Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center is located on Wilson Street in Martinsburg, W.Va. It's the first of its kind in Berkeley County since the 1990s.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been more than 20 years since Martinsburg had an in-patient detox facility. That changed Friday.

The open house for the Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center attracted dozens from the community. The project took two years and was funded through a state grant of more than $1 million. The center will offer 16 beds to people with substance use disorders. It will be open 24/7.

Republicans and Democrats are joining forces to speed legislation combating the misuse of opioids and other addictive drugs. It's expected to pass through the U.S. Senate without issue and would be a rare show of unity against a growing and deadly health-care crisis.

Screenshot from the "Recovery Boys" trailer.
Elaine McMillion Sheldon / Netflix

Tonight West Virginia Public Broadcasting is co-sponsoring a free film screening of Recovery Boys, the latest documentary by Academy Award-nominated director Elaine Sheldon, at Marshall University in Huntington. The doors of Joan C. Edwards Playhouse open at 7pm.

The event is part of WVPB’s Recovery project, a community engagement effort emphasizing recovery from substance use disorder is possible and help is available.

Molly Born / WVPB

On a warm Friday afternoon in July, Fred Cox and his team set up shop on a gravel shoulder off the side of the road, where you might see someone selling summer vegetables. With its white tent, a table, some folding chairs, and brown paper bags piled in crates, the Wyoming County health department's mobile harm reduction unit was open for business for the next half-hour. Its signature offering: a traveling needle exchange offering clean needles to intravenous drug users.

Larry Dowling

To most folks overnight shift work would be exhausting, and the stress of paying bills at times overwhelming. But to talk to Kelly Strickler of Huntington, WV, who clocks in at a local bakery at 11pm and clocks out at 7am, you’d think she won the lottery.

Ohio Collaborative Seeking Solutions To Opioid Crisis

Aug 1, 2018
ReSource reporter Aaron Payne (right) and other journalists meet with community members in Belpre, OH.
Bill Ambrose / Your Voice Ohio

An Ohio-based collaborative thinks journalists can play a bigger role in solving the region’s opioid crisis. The effort starts with listening to people in some of the hardest-hit communities.

A group of about 50 people gathered in a small building at the fairgrounds in Marietta, Ohio, to share their thoughts on the region’s opioid crisis with local journalists.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A few weeks ago, community members  and physicians gathered for a town hall in Beckley, West Virginia. On the agenda? Whether a new psychiatric clinic downtown should be allowed to do medication-assisted treatment from their building.

“What matters is – it’s our neighborhood,” said community member Patty Teubert. “I don’t understand why you don’t hear that.”

Teubert was acting as the spokeswoman for others opposed to the facility, which seemed to be in the overwhelming majority in the meeting.

Angie Gray, Nurse Director for the Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department, shows a box of sealed, sterile syringes given to participants in her harm reduction program.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across West Virginia, people are fighting back against the opioid epidemic and pushing the message of recovery. Some of these people run harm reduction clinics – which sometimes include needle exchanges. We meet a nurse in the Eastern Panhandle who runs one of these programs.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting invites the public to a Charleston screening of "Recovery Boys," the latest documentary film by Academy Award-nominated director Elaine McMillion Sheldon ("Heroin(e)").

The screening takes place Wednesday, August 15 at 7 p.m. at the University of Charleston's Geary Auditorium. 

Tickets are free. RSVPs are requested at https://recoveryboyscharleston.eventbrite.com.

Larry Dowling

Thirty-five-year-old Zach Melba lives in a beautiful home in Ritter Park in Huntington, WV, with his wife Kathy and several children.  He works in construction while she runs her own bakery.

Zach is 8 years into recovery.

“As a kid, I felt disconnected from those around me, and that feeling left me with a big empty hole,” Zach explains. “And I filled that hole with whatever would fill it the quickest.”

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A theater company in Morgantown is producing a play that grapples with trauma, addiction and love as part of its 2018 summer season.

Playing off of the drama and emotion evoked on the stage, and in combination with community experts, West Virginia Public Theater hopes to add to the community conversation about the substance abuse issues ravaging the region.


Gabby Marshall

Inside the spotless industrial kitchen at Recovery Point, a long-term drug treatment facility in Charleston, Tracy Jividen helps to cook three meals a day for the nearly 100 women she calls her sisters. This space is her domain, and the irony isn’t lost on her: Last winter, she was stealing so she could eat.

Lisa Melcher's daughter Christina pictured here with her two children, Anthony and Jasmine. Christina died of a heroin overdose in May 2017. Lisa says Christina is the heart of the Hope Dealer Project and came up with the name.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A group of people fighting the opioid epidemic in Berkeley County is garnering national attention (The New Yorker, CBS). In the Hope Dealer Project, three women work together to drive people struggling with addiction to inpatient detox or rehabilitation centers – pushing the message that recovery is possible.

WVU

Kandi Messinger is a health educator for WVU Cabell County Extension Service. She teaches a nutrition and cooking basics class for those going through the Cabell County drug courts program. Kara Lofton spoke with Messinger about why alternative education and life skills training is an important piece of recovery. 

LOFTON: Why is it important to teach people in recovery nutrition and cooking skills?

The nation's opioid epidemic has been attributed to many factors, including the over-prescription of painkillers and the availability of cheap synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

In Congress, lawmakers are trying to make it harder to buy fentanyl, in part by forcing the U.S. Postal Service to make it more difficult to send narcotics through the mail. But the measure has been languishing.

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