West Virginia’s Substance Abuse Epidemic: Drugs and Alcohol
In the U.S. today, more people die in drug-related incidents than in car accidents. For a country that is so dependent on the car, that is a staggering commentary. Some 52,404-people died as a result of illicit and prescription drug abuse in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Opioids – in the form of legal, prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone, and illicit heroin – are the mainstays of the epidemic.
It all begins innocently enough. Post-surgical, post-injury and chronic-pain patients are prescribed strong opioid painkillers. These medications block the opioid receptors in the brain, offering relief from pain. The problem is that these drugs also are highly addictive, and many patients become dependent on them. Some addicts feel that they need the drug just to function in their everyday lives. But these medications are expensive, and most physicians understand how quickly people can become addicted, so they don’t to prescribe them for long periods.
Many addicts turn to an easily available, cheaper source of the same high, heroin. Heroin produces similar feelings of pain relief for those addicted to prescription painkillers, but the risks of overdose are far higher because street drugs are not regulated, and users can experience an overdose the first time they use. The addictive properties of heroin create an extreme dependency for users, forcing them to use more and more of the drug just to function.
A Mass Casualty Event in West Virginia
Last August, there were 27 heroin overdoses in a 4-hour span – all from the same community and all from one bad batch of dope. Thankfully, officers were equipped with Naloxone – the drug that can stop an overdose from turning into a fatality and there was only one death. This is one example of how drugs have impacted the state. Unfortunately, there is much more.
West Virginia has the highest per capita drug-related death rate in the U.S. In 2015, the state saw 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people attributed to drug use. Researchers from the CDC found that the increase in drug-related deaths in West Virginia from 2014 to 2015 was considered statistically significant, with an increase of 16.9 percent. While the rest of the country wrestles with an alarming rate of illicit drug use, West Virginia is truly on the front lines of this battle.
Why West Virginia Has Fared Worse Against Addiction
At one time a port on the pill mill pipeline from Florida, when that state cracked down on pill mills, it dried up the supply of prescription drugs, and illicit drug use has become the norm. West Virginia’s location on busy interstate highways, with easy passenger train access, places it at the crossroads for domestic drug distribution.
Many occupations in the area are physically demanding and workers are prone to injury. Mining (coal and natural gas) is hard work, and many miners suffer from painful injuries. To feed their families, these miners are looking for immediate fixes to get back to work, and doctors want to alleviate their suffering as much as possible.
Couple this with the preponderance of pill mills cropping up in the state, and you have a recipe for an opioid crisis. Recently, the West Virginia government has begun to crack down on these pill mills like Florida has done already, but for many, the damage is already done. The state still has a large population of addicts who will do whatever it takes to relieve their pain or stop the onset of withdrawal.
Shortfalls in Local Treatment Options for West Virginia Addicts
The high numbers of addicts in the state have taxed the treatment system. There are only so many beds available in recovery programs. Patients have a difficult time securing space in a quality facility, and many continue using while they wait for a spot. The state simply does not have the infrastructure to handle the need for effective treatment facilities. Sadly, West Virginia is one of the most impoverished states in the U.S., and this exacerbates the degree to which the state’s resources are stretched to meet the needs of the drug-addicted population.
While good treatment programs can be found in West Virginia, the mostly rural population doesn’t always have easy access to them. Plus, the need far outweighs availability. Hepatitis C infections go hand-in-hand with the state’s high rates of opioid abuse. Sharing dirty needles are mainly to blame for these infections. Addicts in the area need treatment for their addiction plus coexisting medical conditions.
Florida Treatment Options Offer Addicts Quality Care
Substance abusers in West Virginia find that out-of-state recovery programs often offer the best outcomes. Florida offers addicts from across the country and the world myriad treatment options that are assessable and proven effective.
Law enforcement and behavioral health officials throughout Florida deal with the influx of drugs and the associated crime and addiction problems on a daily basis. To help combat the trend, medical and mental health professionals have created a comprehensive community of recovery facilities. In fact, so many people come to Florida for substance abuse treatment that the state has earned the nickname, “The Recovery State.”
The warm, tropical climate is a big factor in the success of Florida’s recovery programs. Patients can unwind and relax in the area’s natural beauty while having access to the best treatment and recovery programs the country has to offer.
The Treatment Center Offers Guests World-Class Services
The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches provides guests with best-in-class treatment, in a tranquil, relaxed setting just two miles from the beach. Our guests’ can select from a range of treatment options and complete a program tailored to their specific needs. No two addicts are the same, and at The Treatment Center, we focus on the whole person, not just the substance abuse. We care for the mind, body, and spirit while helping our guests become sober.
We work with our guests to develop the best plan of action to help them get back to their lives. Each individualized treatment plan may include a variety of options, including medical detoxification, 12-step programs, faith-based programs, inpatient services, hospital-based treatment, pain management, and holistic therapies. There is no one-size-fits-all formula at The Treatment Center.
What makes us different is that we truly serve as guides for our guests on their journey to recovery. We don’t stop once a guest finishes treatment – we provide comprehensive aftercare, as well as family support, so our guests have the best chance of lifelong sobriety and a productive, healthy life.