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West Virginia Substance Abuse Prevention Region 5


West Virginia Substance Abuse Prevention Region 5

Partnership Activities:

The WVU ICRC assistant director for outreach, was invited to participate in a Region 5 effort to develop a strategic plan for the prevention of substance abuse and its outcomes. Region 5 includes 10 counties in southern West Virginia—Boone, Cabell, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne—most of which are among the highest risk counties in the state for prescription painkiller overdoses. The strategic plan included an objective to implement overdose prevention programs featuring naloxone distribution in the region. The OD prevention objective led to an ICRC-Region 5 collaborative research proposal that was funded by the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WV CTSI). The project explores the feasibility of implementing an overdose prevention program featuring take-home naloxone (an antidote to opioid overdose), in these high-risk southern WV counties.  

Public Health Impact of Partnership:

West Virginia has the highest drug-related poisoning death rate in the U.S., largely due to prescription drug overdoses. The long-term research objective is to launch an opioid overdose prevention program with take-home naloxone in these high-risk counties in southern WV and ultimately expand such a program into other WV counties and other high-risk areas of Central Appalachia. In a 2010 survey of such programs across the U.S., the CDC found 188 programs in 17 states that collectively had reported over 10,000 overdose reversals. However, at that time there were none in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, or other Central Appalachian states that have much higher than average rates of overdose deaths. Naloxone is an effective antidote for both prescription opioid, and heroin OD deaths. Recent increased deaths from heroin OD add to the importance of this translational research.


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