Addiction and Recovery in 

West Virginia

In 2020, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a comprehensive map of the U.S., showing the total drug overdoses in each state and the fatal overdoses per capita. West Virginia’s overdose crisis is so overwhelming that we have a different color code than all the other states. For the numbers, while no other state in the nation exceeds 50 overdose fatalities for every 100,000 people living in that state, West Virginia suffers 81 overdose deaths for every 100,000 residents.

The overdose crisis in WV is not new, though the problem is escalating, our residents are more than twice as likely to die from a drug overdose than in a car accident. 

Drug fatalities are not the only drug-related harm felt in our state, the drug crisis is directly linked to statewide increases in liver disease including Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, hepatitis, HIV, and endocarditis. We rank first in the nation for hepatitis B and C, much of which is directly linked to drug use. Twenty-eight of the 220 counties in the U.S. that are considered at high-risk for HIV and/or hepatitis outbreaks are in our state. 

The impact on families has also been severe. According to West Virginia’s public health officials, there is not a family in the state who has not felt the effects of the drug crisis. From a strained foster care system to high rates of babies being born to mothers hooked on drugs, the state is one of the few in the nation facing the real possibility that its next generation will be comprised of young adults exposed to opioid drugs.

Drug addiction is a personal crisis, and there should be no stereotyping or stigmatizing that drug abuse only affects certain types of people in specific circumstances. However, it has been observed that several individuals in the same geographic area may struggle with similar life factors that could lead to drug abuse, even if each person’s life story and personal struggle is unique to them.

West Virginia is a good example of this. While drug addiction can affect anyone on any rung of the income ladder, economic struggles and joblessness often create painful life circumstances that cause people to turn to drug abuse as a coping mechanism. We are a state with the 15th highest unemployment rate and the fourth highest poverty rate, poor economic conditions may create the conditions for drug abuse. Then drug abuse further exacerbates harsh economic conditions, thus creating a vicious cycle of poverty. 

Another factor is that WV has long been a working-class state, with many of its adults employed in jobs that involve manual labor like oil & gas, coal mining, timbering, and manufacturing, leading to high rates of chronic physical pain among the state’s working-age adults.

The drug problem has become so deeply entwined in all aspects of life in our state that there is no quick fix or single solution to relieve the state’s addiction epidemic. As reports suggest, every family in the state knows someone harmed by the drug problem. Now more than ever, those families must come together and ensure their addicted loved ones receive professional help.

Addiction is a nightmare, but it does not have to be permanent. Although we face numerous challenges in overcoming the addiction emergency, the best solution is to ensure those who are addicted receive help at residential drug treatment centers. Family members of addicts should work closely with other families, loved ones, friends, and public health officials to ensure addicted individuals get help before it is too late.

One of the key initiatives in WV is the establishment of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. MAT combines medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. Our state has expanded the availability of MAT programs, ensuring that individuals have access to evidence-based treatment options.

Additionally, there is implemented harm reduction strategies to prevent overdose deaths and reduce the spread of infectious diseases associated with drug use. These strategies include the distribution of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, to first responders and community members. 

While we have faced significant challenges related to substance abuse and addiction, our state has implemented various initiatives and programs to address these issues and provide support for individuals seeking drug recovery.

Even though we are not known to be in a recovery desert (West Virginia has approximately 151 Detox, Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabs), there are limited options for our rural Doddridge County citizens due to the facility locations. Here are some “somewhat local” Recovery Centers. 

Veterans: Louis A Johnson VA Medical Center, 304-623-3461

Men Only: Clean and Clear Recovery, 304-893-9777

Men or Women: Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, 855-942-3922.

Recovery Point, 304-523-4673.

Valley Health Care, 304-366-7174.

St. Joseph Recovery Center, 304-916-1881.

Wise Path Recovery Center, 304-381-5381

Youth: WVU Chestnut Ridge Center, 304-598-6400 

Youth Academy, 304-363-3341

If you know someone struggling with a SUD please reach out, there is help available.

Call Help4WV at 844-435-7498 or the staff at Doddridge County Community Corrections DRC at 304-873-3005.