There’s nothing to celebrate in news that the number of drug overdose deaths is increasing across the country. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Provision Drug Overdose Death Counts did hold one piece of positive news for West Virginia. We are one of only six states that showed improvement in decreasing the number of overdose deaths over the past year.
For the U.S. as a whole, there has been a 6.6% increase. In the Mountain State, there was a 3.63% decrease between March 2021 and March 2022. Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia also showed some improvement.
“West Virginia is starting to plateau and likely seeing a slight downward trend,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, according to a report by WBOY. “We are encouraged by CDC’s data and will continue our efforts to end West Virginia’s substance use epidemic.”
Just as important as the focus purely on reducing substance abuse, addiction and overdose deaths must be the work to improve the socio-cultural and economic conditions that have driven so many to a life of addiction.
We’ve got to offer the education and opportunities that will support good-paying jobs — and we’ve got to allow our economy to be diversified to the degree that those good-paying jobs are plentiful here. We’ve got to work toward providing better mental health resources for those who are struggling; and help a more healthy lifestyle accessible to everyone.
We can do it, West Virginia. The momentum is in our favor, but only if we keep tackling the whole problem.