By: Lucas Smith
Drug abuse has increased substantially over the last five years in the United States. Overdoses have hit the nation harder than ever. Now, this drug abuse is hitting a little too close to home.
The state of West Virginia now leads the nation in the drug overdose death rate. According to the CDC, West Virginia’s death rate is 52.0 per 100,000 people in 2016. There is a significant difference between West Virginia, and the state who has the second largest drug overdose rate. Ohio is 39.1 per 100,000 people.
The most common drugs being used in the state of West Virginia are meth, marijuana, prescription pills, and- you guessed it- heroin. Heroin is one of the most abused drugs and is the main contributor to West Virginia’s overdose rate along with prescription pills.
More recently, the number of heroin abuses have increased, or the normal number of users have become sloppy in disposing their messes. Drug aftermath such as needles and syringes have been found all across the state. On January 23, a five-year-old girl and her mother attended a restaurant on Charleston’s east end. They went to the bathroom, and the young girl picked up an uncapped hypodermic needle with blood on the surface. Needles and syringes have also been found recently in a bathroom in the Charleston Town Center Mall.
“We get a call about two-to-three times a week with needles laying around somewhere. The Park on 68 up at Sherman has been littered with needles,” said West Virginia State Police Officer Dan Herdman.
The drug problem is not just found in cities like Charleston and Huntington, Jackson County has become a place for drug abusers to reside. On both sides of the county line, people are being arrested for selling, making, and using drugs, including- but not limited to- heroin.
In Jackson County, the drugs that are most commonly seen are heroin and prescription pills.
Officer Herdman states that 30 to 40 percent of Jackson County’s population are either buying, selling, or using drugs. That number “could be higher with people abusing prescription medication.”
There are many dangers that people need to watch out for when being exposed to these drugs and these needles. There are many risks if a person becomes vulnerable to them.
“There are a high percentage of drug abusers that have Hepatitis C or AIDs. It is an infectious disease hazard. It also exposes children to the needles who do not understand the risks of these infectious diseases,” said Officer Herdman.
To decrease drug-abuse across the county and the state, the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition participates in many activities to decrease the number of people, mostly teens, participating in drug-related activities.
“We go on sticker shocks, which is where we go to stores that sell alcohol, and we put stickers on the alcohol that say you cannot serve to anyone under 21,” said member Calista Boggess.
The purpose of the Anti-Drug Coalition is “to inform young people about the effects of drug use, and to lessen the number of teens that use drugs,” said Boggess.
If you would like to help make a difference, decrease the amount of drug abuse in the state, and clean up your environment, contact the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition at (304) 531- 4128 and the Jackson County Police Department at (304) 373-2290 for more information.