DHHR reports drug overdose deaths trending downward in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WHSV) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) has reported an improvement in the number of monthly overdose deaths from April 2021 through September 2021.

This downward trend aligns with provisional data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates West Virginia’s decline in monthly overdose deaths is better than the national average and neighboring states.

The provisional data can be found here. Select the header titled 12 Month-ending Provisional Number of Drug Overdose Deaths and select West Virginia under jurisdiction.

For example, the study shows two of West Virginia’s counties with typically the highest overdose death rates, Cabell and Kanawha counties, decreased deaths from April to September 2021.

Specific data can be found by selecting the state and the county in the drop-down menu under the header titled Provisional Drug Overdose Deaths by County, 12 month period ending July, 2021.

“As in many other states, West Virginia experienced an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic as people were isolated and unable to connect with others,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, ODCP Director. “The significant drop in overdose deaths in recent months is a testament to the leadership of Governor Jim Justice and the hard work and collaboration across DHHR bureaus to provide and expand innovative, high quality, evidence-based addiction and mental care to residents.”

In 2021, a number of measures were implemented to address the overdose epidemic. DHHR distributed record numbers of naloxone to high risk individuals, continued the expansion of treatment and recovery services, licensed new syringe service programs, built a network of ODCP Regional Coordinators in the hardest hit counties, launched new stigma campaigns, and continued to move the treatment system towards quality outcomes.

“While no overdoses are acceptable, we are encouraged by this data and will continue our efforts to end West Virginia’s substance use epidemic,” added Dr. Christiansen.

For more information on West Virginia’s efforts to combat the substance use epidemic, click here.

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