Overdose deaths increased in Cabell County: Self-isolation cited as a possible cause for relapse

West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) COVID-19 has been a major focus for health departments across the Mountain State, but how are other health issues being dealt with?

One of the main health issues plaguing the City of Huntington long before the pandemic is substance abuse.

According to the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, during the past couple of months, EMS reports of overdose calls and deaths have increased. In Huntington, overdose reports are not uncommon. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more people to self-isolate, those who were in recovery have been in danger of relapsing.

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the physician director for CHHD, says those in recovery have been at high risk, but not for COVID-19.

We know that people who have gone into recovery and have been abstinent and then if they would relapse under the stress of this, that relapse time is a high risk for overdose. So, there are a lot of different factors.

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, Physician Director for CHHD

The pandemic has sparked testing locations in several areas across the Mountain State. As a preventative measure, the CHHD has resources for those going through recovery. Naloxone Hydrochloride or Narcan is a narcotic is used to treat overdoses in an emergency situation.

Kilkenny says even with the readily available overdose solutions, without anyone around, it would be impossible to inject Narcan.

The QRT team that does such great work is involved with trying to make sure that we have Naloxone available to people, but the problem with Naloxone in isolation is that you can’t save yourself.

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, Physician Director for CHHD

At CHHD, the substance abuse issue is receiving the same amount of attention as any other health issue, including COVID-19. Health officials are already taking steps to help prevent overdoses in the future.

Killkenny explains they have “already had some meetings with people that are involved in addressing that from the treatment side.”

For more information and resource options in the Cabell-Huntington region, click here.

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