BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – More than 100,000 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S over the course of a year in 2021, according to the CDC. It was an increase of 28.5% of overdose deaths in the country from a year prior with 78,056 deaths.
West Virginia, a statistically-proven vulnerable state when it comes to drug addiction and overdoses, faces around 1,000 of those deaths in a year.
However, according to the DHHR and the Human Resource’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), the state has made a significant improvement. They reported that the number of overdose deaths dropped over a five-month period in 2021, indicating that West Virginia’s statistics were better than they were nationally.
Nevertheless, a continuous overdose battle goes on across the state, with Raleigh County only one of the areas seeing the worst of the problem.
“Right now we’re out ground-zero for the opioid epidemic, we have more overdoses than any other state by far,” says PR Co-chair for the Raleigh County Prevention Coalition, Brian Akers. “HIV is very bad in our area, Charleston, West Virginia is the number one place on the CDC’s most concerning list and Huntington breaks the top ten.”
Hosted by the Raleigh County Prevention Coalition, The Beauty of Another Chance event was held in downtown Beckley Monday at Shoemaker Square.
It was an opportunity for people to come out and receive free Naloxone and training, along with free HIV, and Hep C testing. The event was also a way to help break the stigma behind Substance Use Disorder (SUD) by providing useful information on it, and for people to get another chance at recovery.
“I like these events because I’ve suffered from several of these problems, personally I had Hep C, I’m in recovery, I’ve been saved by Narcan, so a lot of this just hits home with me,” Akers says.
The event was also host to free food and live music by local artists who are actively in recovery.
The Raleigh County Prevention Coalition holds numerous opportunities for people around the community to get help and information about Substance Use Disorder.
Monday’s event is part of a three-part summer series of events the organization is putting on. The last part is expected to be held sometime in late August or early September.