America’s opioid crisis is, unfortunately, nowhere near its bitter end. Yet as the rest of the nation struggles to address this ongoing drug problem, West Virginia has been hit the most critically. Recent reports even reveal that prescription drugs continued to enter the state until 2015. What is the current outlook of this crippling issue, and might West Virginia receive its long overdue break from the epidemic that affects thousands of lives each year?
To the shock of many, Vox News recently shared that drug companies were responsible for shipping over 20 million opioid painkillers to a West Virginia town up until only the last year or so. As a result, the city of Williamson and surrounding areas have suffered the most addictions and overdoses. In fact, opioids have claimed more lives in this state than any other in the country, with an overdose rate of 48.3 per 100,000 residents in 2016. Vox points to another study — spanning from 2007 to 2012 — showing that drug companies sent roughly 780 million painkillers to the state of West Virginia as a whole.
While no amount of funding can recover the lives lost, another factor in this ongoing equation involves money spent by the state. The Charleston Gazette-Mail shared last month that the opioid epidemic has cost West Virginia roughly $8 billion per year — the highest economic burden in the nation. While addressing this major concern is the collective effort, the state spends money on specific areas such as health care, treatment and preventative methods. Although West Virginia’s economy is clearly at risk, the ultimate concern is in regard to the number of deaths that continue to rise in this particular area, as well as the children that countless addictions and overdoses have left behind.