West Virginia: TOO MANY are dying

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The New Yorker (Talbot, June 5th and 12th) includes a lengthy piece on addiction and specifically a small town in west Virginia that has been greatly impacted. The piece includes troubling scenes with couples overdosing at their children’s softball games, sometimes as many as three calls to the same household in an evening for Narcan administration to different family members and a pattern that seems unbreakable.

 

It also speaks to the men and women at the forefront of the opioid crisis and their hero-like work to treat individuals and their families. However, it also is clear that treatment options are scarce without a full continuum to rely upon.

 

West Virginia is a close-knit state in which families are born and remain. Full disclosure, my kin come from Charleston, where my grandfather was a physician and many of my family were born and died there. Much of my formative time was spent in those hills. My cousin (like many others) has been challenged with heroin addiction and returned to her small town of birth. While she has the resources to get help, her life has been bleak.

 

Talbot’s piece explains that the state has the highest number of deaths by overdose in the country – it also speculates as to why. The state has been challenged economically without much hope for its citizens.

 

Predictably individuals became addicted to painkillers (prescribed by doctors) and then found that street drugs were cheaper. Most alarmingly, though – is the lack of resources available to those who are ready to recover.

 

Importantly, folks in the know understand that a quick detox and return to from whence one came only leads back to the challenges that lead to addiction in the first place. Recovery is much more than detox and medication assisted treatment (MAT.) Folks must be treated as total people, from the inside out.

 

This means entry in a program that supports spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological needs. This means working with counselors who care and work on root issues while breaking cycles.

 

Sadly, folks in the state must often drive hours to get help (Note, that www.pinnacletreatment.com does have treatment available near state lines.)

 

I believe in a place called West Virginia. It gave life to me and many of my relatives. Hopefully, suffering residents will travel for treatment. Where there is treatment, there is hope.