West Virginia Drug OD Deaths Rose 15 Percent in 2016

CHARLESTON– The number of reported overdose deaths that occurred last year in West Virginia has continued to rise.

Citing data released Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that at least 844 people died in the state of drug overdoses in 2016.

That number is a 15 percent increase over 2015’s tally of 731 drug deaths, West Virginia’s previous all-time high.

Fatal overdoses related to fentanyl, an opioid that’s 100 times stronger than prescription morphine, have fueled a 46 percent increase of overdose deaths in the state in just four years. Drug traffickers often mix fentanyl with heroin.

The West Virginia Health Statistics Center compiles the state’s overdose data from death certificates certified by the chief medical examiner. Additional deaths are expected to be added to the total in the coming weeks.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com