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West Virginia opioid response plan targets crisis on multiple fronts


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia public health officials are circulating a preliminary plan to combat the opioid crisis, emphasizing the need to start addiction treatment sooner in places like hospital emergency rooms and jails.

The short-term plan aims to reduce opioid-related deaths in a state with the highest drug overdose rate in the nation. The report suggests reaching people at “key moments of opportunity,” especially those who survive overdoses.

“Sometimes, we only have one shot at intervention with these people,” said Jim Johnson, who heads the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy.

The Department of Health and Human Resources released the opioid response plan Thursday, after holding a public hearing, reviewing more than 300 comments and incorporating suggestions from an expert panel that included researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

In line with getting more people into treatment sooner, the plan recommends requiring hospital emergency departments and emergency medical service providers to report nonfatal overdoses to the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health.

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