On WalletHub’s recent ranking of all the states in America with the most drug problem for 2018, West Virginia came in the 5th spot after the first four states which are District of Columbia, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Michigan. WalletHub’s ranking is based on several key metrics including arrests, overdose rates, and meth lab incidents.
On specifics, West Virginia topped as the state with most drug-related overdose deaths per capita. They also have the most drug arrests on college campuses per 1,000 students.
One of the factors why West Virginia’s drug problem has worsened throughout the years is its location. The state is on busy interstate highways, with easy passenger train accessibility. It placed the country at the crossroads for domestic drug distribution.
Opioid Crisis and Overdose Deaths
The opioid crisis all over America is heavy in West Virginia. Way back in 2016, the state topped as the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths across the country. They recorded an average of 43.4 deaths in every 100,000 people on that year. The cases of overdose deaths peaked in 2016 with 887 deaths with the majority of deaths attributed to synthetic opioids and heroin.
In 2017, the state’s Health Statistics Center released a data that showed that there are 909 people in West Virginia dying from drug overdose cases. It’s a big leap from the state’s 2012 record which only reached 558 overdose death cases.
West Virginia also had a history when there are 27 heroin overdoses in just 4 hours. All affected abusers came from the same community and one bad batch of the drug. Fortunately, the officers who responded to the situation were equipped with Naxolone. Naxolone is a drug that can stop an overdose that results in a fatality.
There are also pregnant women who are involved in opioid and other illicit drugs in West Virginia. Between 2014 and 2016 the rate of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in West Virginia rose further to 37 cases per 1,000 live births.
Fighting the Crisis
This 2018, US District Judge Dan Polster, ordered the federal government to share the pain-pill data to the public. He ordered initially requested for the top 5 states with most drug problems and then later ordered it for all the states. Polster hopes that this move will help stem the tide of overdose deaths in this time of US history with the worst drug crisis.
Another person willing to do everything to fight not just the opioid crisis in West Virginia but also the state’s whole drug problem is Dr. Rahul Gupta. After seeing how the number of overdose deaths rose recently, Dr. Gupta took charge of the health crises in the state like how he did in the rest of America.
In the next weeks, Gupta and his team will comb through public databases, medical examiner reports, Medicaid rolls, birth certificates, death certificates, and criminal records. They aim to figure out who was at the highest risk of an overdose in the state. The idea was to give lawmakers a data-filled roadmap of how to reduce the death rate, who to focus resources on, as well as what programs and policies might help them achieve it.
Government officials and other people willing to address the current drug problem in West Virginia is willing to try every method to lessen the worsening drug situation in the state.
Cities of West Virginia
- Charles Town
- Glen Dale
- Mount Hope
- New Cumberland
- New Martinsville
- Oak Hill
- Paden City
- Pleasant Valley
- Point Pleasant
- South Charleston
- St. Marys
- St. Albans
- White Sulphur Springs