Substance abuse out of control in W.Va.
News media representatives attending a daylong presentation on substance abuse at West Virginia University heard a variety of innovative, decisive ideas about battling the scourge in our state.
But we also were told on Monday that, in important ways, the fight is just beginning.
One comment summed it up. It came from the event’s keynote speaker, Marc Haut, who is professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at the WVU School of Medicine.
Haut and other speakers provided some background, much of which is distressingly familiar to West Virginians.
• Our state has the highest rate of overdose deaths involving opioid drugs in the nation, by far.
• We have the worst rate of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
• We lack enough addiction counselors.
With all that, Haut said, “This hasn’t peaked, yet.”
The situation is growing worse in many ways.
Among them is that methamphetamines are making a comeback. And there is the upsurge in engineered drugs such as fentanyl, which can be extraordinarily deadly.
No hope? Of course not. We West Virginians have faced and beaten any number of serious challenges.
In many ways, this one may be the worst — and it is growing more grave by the day.