HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Preliminary numbers suggest West Virginia is making some progress in the fight against the opioid epidemic as overdose deaths appear to be dropping in the Mountain State.
The preliminary report from the Department of Health and Human Resources expects a six percent drop in overdose deaths in 2018 compared to 2017.
The numbers project the final number of overdose deaths will be around 952, but to date, DHHR has recorded 888.
Opioids are the most common drug used in overdoses, but those are also down slightly (82% in 2018, 86% in 2017)
While fentanyl overdoses have started to level off for the first time in, since 2014, overdoses involving methamphetamine are on the rise at 36%, compared to 23% in 2017.
This report also breaks down some county by county numbers.
The four counties with the greatest number of overdose deaths in 2018 were Cabell (at least 149), Kanawha (at least 145), Berkeley (at least 73), and Raleigh (at least 54).
However, Cabell and Berkeley are expected to see the biggest year over year declines, where Kanawha and Raleigh will remain stable.
It’s important to remember that these are preliminary numbers, and they are expected to change slightly.
Governor Jim Justice said, “It is incredibly heartening to see that we are finally starting to make some incredible strides in our fight against the terrible drug crisis that continues to hurt the people of our state and the entire nation”.