WV has the highest mortality rate from drug overdoses, so what are we doing wrong?

Top Stories

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – We’re losing the fight. It’s been statistically proven, the opioid epidemic is beating down on West Virginia. 

The Mountain State is leading in perhaps the worst category possible, mortality rate from drug overdoses. Typically stories focus on what the state is doing right to change the course of the crisis, but maybe instead the questions should be what are we doing wrong?

These drugs are so powerful and potent.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

They’re on the streets and in the communities.

The soaring rate of overdoses has many causes. One of them is the more potent, illegal and synthetic narcotics. While there’s efforts to keep the dangers off the streets, Dr. Hess explained it only takes one dose, even for those who think they have a tolerance because of strong prescriptions. 

These drugs are sometimes a hundred and a thousand times more potent than what they’re used to taking, so when they take that one dose of the narcotic it just cuts out their ability to breathe and they die from it.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

According to the CDC, West Virginia has the highest mortality rate from drug overdoses and it’s happening all in the region. 

While there are efforts to keep people away from drugs, Dr. Hess said the state also needs to target some of the socioeconomic factors. In a state where jobs are down and unemployment is up, sadness sets in and people turn to drugs. 

I think that there’s a there’s a cultural bias here to reach out to drug to kind of dull their depression, or as their coping mechanism as opposed to something like working out or reading or trying another hobby.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

Dr. Hess believes there’s a way we can stop this through education and starting it young. 

Before you even try that first drug, the best way to do it is prevented it. So, I think we need to get in the school systems. I think we need to educate the kids on the dangers of just taking one drug.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

More states in this area of the country were also listed among the worst for overdose death rates.

The other states in the top five highest mortality rates from drug overdoses are Delaware, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Read the CDC’s data here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

video

More Video

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

More Top News

WTRF 7News Twitter