The opioid epidemic is causing devastation from sea to shining sea. Some states are being hit especially hard by the substance abuse situation, including West Virginia. In an effort to stave the number of fatalities caused by opioid overdose, the state is distributing over eight thousand opioid overdose prevention kits. The kits contain the life-saving substance naloxone, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose if it is administered soon enough. Officials hope that making more of the kits available will result in a lower rate of fatality due to opioid overdose.
The kits were paid for using a one million dollar federal grant issued to West Virginia, which has the highest rate of overdose death in the United States. If administered in time, naloxone can prevent the respiratory arrest that can be fatal in those overdosing from opioids. According to federal data, in 2015, West Virginia saw seven hundred twenty five fatal opioid overdose deaths. At forty one point five deaths per one hundred thousand people, West Virginia had the highest opioid overdose rate of any state in the country. While numbers from 2016 aren’t yet available, officials aren’t hopeful that the situation in the state has improved over the course of the last year.
Doctor Rahul Gupta, the commissions for West Virginia’s Bureau for Public Health, says that the data suggests that the overdose rates have, unfortunately, not yet reached their peak. Based on the data available regarding deaths that have occurred over the past few years, Dr. Gupta suspects that the trend will continue. Dr. Gupta says that the picture will become clearer once the data for 2016 becomes available for consideration, as well.
Naloxone has proven invaluable in West Virginia’s battle against opioid overdose. Last year, emergency responders used over four thousand doses of naloxone, up from three thousand three hundred fifty one the year before that, and two thousand one hundred sixty five two years ago. However, those numbers don’t include doses of naloxone administered by urgent care centers, first responders, emergency departments, and family members.
As the opioid epidemic continues to necessitate the need for naloxone, the price attached to the live-saving medicine has steadily risen, as well. In 2016, a study argued that continued price hikes might threaten the medicine’s reduction of overdoses. According to the study, a two-dose package of naloxone can cost in excess of four thousand five hundred dollars, an increase of five hundred percent over the past two years.
Over the next few weeks, more than four thousand of the potentially life-saving two-dose kits will be sent out to high risk areas in West Virginia, including sites that provide needle exchange services and police and fire departments.
If you are struggling with addiction and can’t find a way out, one of the drug rehab centers in the American Drug Testing Network’s catalogue can get you the help you need. Give one of our addiction specialists a call and begin your journey to recovery.