Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
It’s hard to pick up a newspaper, look at social media, or listen to the news without hearing of the concerns related to drug addiction in the state of West Virginia. Senator Manchin held a series of recent summits in West Virginia to discuss the topic. He, and others, are looking for commonsense solutions to our drug problem. Here are some facts about drug addiction, and especially prescription drug addiction that should concern all of us:
- Prescription drug abuse is responsible for about 75 percent of drug-related deaths in the United States and 90 percent in West Virginia.
- According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and it’s claiming the lives of thousands of Americans every year.
- According to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control in November, the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade.
- More than 40 people across the US die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers like hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. These prescription painkillers are responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
A surge in illegal drug injections and prescription opioid abuse are fueling an increase in hepatitis C infection among young people in West Virginia and three other Appalachian states, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported. Nationwide, HCV infection is on the rise, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia showed the highest rate (364 percent) of increase in HCV cases from 2006 to 2012. The study linked the HCV rise to an increase in opioid abuse, including heroin, since admissions to drug treatment programs in central Appalachia showed an increase from 2006-2012. Of the cases for which risk data were identified, about 73 percent reported that they’d injected drugs. The CDC also points out that although the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among young persons who inject drugs in central Appalachia is currently low, the regional increase in cases of acute HCV infection raises concerns about the potential for an increase in HIV infections because IDU is a risk factor for both HCV and HIV infection.
As you can see, the drug addiction problem not only threatens individuals and families, it has the potential to negatively impact our health system, the social and justice systems, and our workforce. How do we address these issues that threaten to tear apart the fabric of our society in West Virginia?
At the Highland companies in Charleston, we have a multi-pronged approach to the prevention and treatment of drug addiction. Working with partners and coalitions across the state, we participate in numerous prevention efforts for every age group. But treatment is where we excel. Our Highland Health Center, Inc. …. Your Detox Place…..provides a 7-10 day detoxification program for drug and alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one needs help for an addiction, this can be your first step. Don’t hesitate to call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 304-926-1669 for help. This voluntary program allows you to receive help in a crisis, and allows your health to be stabilized during the detoxification process. We will then work with partners across the state to help you continue your journey toward sobriety.
Our skilled providers at Process Strategies can provide continuing care after admission. To make an appointment for evaluation for outpatient care for addiction, don’t hesitate to call us at 304-348-1436.