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A reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly

Overdose Incidents Rose Sharply Around Ohio Valley During Pandemic

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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (OVR) — Emergency response data from across the Ohio Valley show sharp increases in suspected drug overdoses since March, when health measures including school and business closures and stay-at-home orders increased social isolation. For public health officials, it’s a grim reminder that another epidemic is ongoing and possibly worsening during the isolation associated with… Read More

The waiting room at Jefferson Day Report Center in West Virginia.

Reports Show Challenges Remain In Addiction Treatment Medication Access

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Center for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate opioid overdose deaths in the Ohio Valley declined in 2018, the first time in nearly a decade. Researchers say this is cause for optimism. But two new studies warn that access to medication assisted treatment, or MAT, for people with opioid use disorders continues to be a challenge. A Johns… Read More

PROACT Executive Director Micheal Haney (center right) with other recipients of the Innovation Now Awards in West Virginia

Innovating Recovery: Group Highlights New Approaches To Addiction Crisis

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After years of leading the nation in overdose death rates, Ohio Valley communities are looking for new ways to deal with the addiction crisis. A national nonprofit organization promotes and partners with programs that do just that. The Addiction Policy Forum celebrated new ideas at events in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia to honor programs selected in their Innovations to Address… Read More

The waiting room at Jefferson Day Report Center in West Virginia.

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

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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… Read More

A row of desks in a classroom with a backpack hanging up on the back wall

Born Exposed: Schools Seek To Help Children Exposed To Drugs In The Womb

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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… Read More

ARC Awards Grant To Help Pave Road To Addiction Recovery

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The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a major grant to what it calls an innovative pilot program for a region hit hard by the addiction crisis. The goal is to help people struggling with addiction get on the road to treatment, recovery, and – ultimately – employment. People with substance use disorders can have trouble… Read More

A bottle of OxyContin with pills scattered around

New Data Show Opioid Deaths May Have Peaked, And Reveal Scale Of Past Pain Pill Sales

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Two newly released sets of government data show that the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis may finally be dropping and also reveal the scale of the pain pill sales that help set the crisis in motion. The data for the Ohio Valley show how hard the region was hit and how hard people… Read More

New Prescription: Ohio Valley Native Dr. Patrice Harris Is First Black Woman To Lead AMA

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Dr. Patrice Harris took the oath in June to become the first African-American woman to serve as president of the powerful American Medical Association, the largest professional association for physicians in the United States. Harris also brings another unique perspective to the job as someone who grew up in rural Appalachia. “I was born and raised in Bluefield,… Read More

A bottle of OxyContin with pills scattered around

West Virginia Settles Lawsuit With Drug Distributor for $37 Million

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A major drug company has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of contributing to the opioid epidemic in one of the Ohio Valley’s hardest hit states. And officials there believe it’s the largest settlement against a single pharmaceutical distributor. The McKesson Corporation agreed to pay $37 million to settle a 2016 lawsuit filed by… Read More

Harveset Lobby

Cannabis Economy: With Medical Marijuana, Ohio’s Meigs County Hopes To Cash In On “Golden” Opportunity

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Meigs County, Ohio, has a complicated history with marijuana. “Meigs County Gold” has been grown illegally for years. Local legend has it that was the strain of choice for musicians like the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson when they toured Ohio. But for Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, that isn’t a source of pride. Instead… Read More

Federal Opioid Strikeforce Indicts More Than A Dozen Ohio Valley Doctors

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The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday more than a dozen indictments against doctors in the Ohio Valley on charges relating to the illegal distribution of opioids. These are the first major indictments from the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which started work in December. “The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in… Read More

ARC Provides Funds For Addiction Treatment Projects In Athens County and Kentucky

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The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis. Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton… Read More

As Opioid Crisis Affects A New Generation, Experts Study Long-Term Effects Of Prenatal Exposure

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Sue Meeks has worked with children for years as a registered nurse. Meeks manages the family navigator program at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio. Several years ago, she started noticing three and four-year-olds coming into the program with certain distinctive behaviors. “Children that appear to be neurologically very overstimulated,” she… Read More

A reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly

CDC Data Show Ohio Valley Still Has Nation’s Highest Overdose Death Rates

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New federal data show the Ohio Valley again led the nation in rates of fatal drug overdoses last year. The data confirm what local officials have reported: Synthetic opioids are fueling the increase. West Virginia had the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in 2017 with 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Ohio had the second-highest… Read More

Ohio Valley Lawmakers Helped Shape Bipartisan Bill On Opioid Crisis

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A year after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, he signed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to bolster law enforcement efforts and expand addiction treatment and resources. Proponents hope the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act helps the Ohio Valley, which suffers some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths…. Read More

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

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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… Read More

A reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly

New Ohio Data Show Sharp Increase In Overdose Deaths From The Opioid Fentanyl

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New official state data from the Ohio Department of Health show 4,854 people died of drug overdoses in 2017, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. The new data add to evidence from around the Ohio Valley showing deaths related to the opioid crisis continued to rise in 2017 as state records begin to reflect the… Read More

Surgeon General Says Opioid Crisis Requires Fight Against Stigma

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In a comprehensive new report on the opioid crisis, the U.S. surgeon general writes that stigma remains a major barrier to treatment and urges a more supportive approach to those in need. Surgeon General Jerome Adams wrote in his Spotlight on Opioids report that stigma has prevented people with opioid use disorders from seeking treatment. “The way… Read More

Senate Opioids Bill Takes Aim At Fentanyl Imports

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The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan package to address the nation’s opioid crisis with more resources for addiction treatment and recovery and an emphasis on stopping the flow of the the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. The Senate approved the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 by a 99-1 vote Monday night including a version of Ohio… Read More

The New DARE: Schools Aim To Stop Next Generation Of Opioid Crisis

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New data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show a rare bright spot amid the opioid crisis. Fewer high schoolers in the region appear to be using opioids in the past year. School officials in the Ohio Valley want to continue that trend with more school-based programs designed to help prevent… Read More

Rural Risk: Mobile Clinics Help Tackle Multifaceted Opioid Crisis

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In a room at the Letcher County Health Department in Whitesburg, Kentucky, about 20 people are learning how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication. Among them is 18-year-old Morgan Hopkins. An aspiring therapist, Hopkins said she wants to be ready with naloxone if someone overdoses around her. “You never know what you’re going… Read More

Your Voice Ohio Collaborative Seeking Solutions To Opioid Crisis

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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… Read More

Back To The Garden: How Green Thumbs Help With Addiction Recovery

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Meredith Jensen is doing some gardening on a sunny day in a secluded part of Athens, Ohio. “I’m working on our pollinator garden beds,” she said. “Which are a bunch of fun flowers that’ll help attract butterflies, bumble bees, you name it.” Her partner Jamie Betit pushes a full wheel barrow to fill the other… Read More

A bottle of OxyContin with pills scattered around

House Committee Questions Opioid Distributors About Flood Of Pain Pills

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Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction… Read More

overdose-map

CDC Outlines Plan To Address Ohio Valley’s Opioids Crisis

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President Donald Trump’s call to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers grabbed headlines Monday. But public health officials within the Trump administration are stressing other elements of the president’s plan to address the opioid crisis. Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, outlined her agency’s plans for the… Read More