Rise in overdose deaths calls for stronger response

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The problem of drug addiction in West Virginia – and other parts of Appalachia, for that matter – is a moving target.

A decade ago, the use of crack cocaine was rampant in the Huntington area, along with the abuse of prescription drugs. Crack receded as a major threat, while the prescription drug issue continued to balloon. Then, as state laws aimed at cracking down on “pill mills” were passed and law enforcement responded, the illegal sale of prescription drugs waned.

But the addiction issues afflicting many West Virginians didn’t; many of those people looked for a new fix and it turned out to be the cheaper alternative of heroin. That street drug has become more popular in the last few years, and it has become a deadly option for far too many.

That has been brought home with an exclamation point this month in the Huntington area.

Paramedics in Cabell County responded to 41 drug overdoses in the first 23 days of this month. In nine instances, all in Huntington, overdoses resulted in death. Heroin is suspected in almost all of those cases.

The spate of overdoses is not a surprise…

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