August 17, 2016

What he said

I mentioned in earlier posts that Republican candidate for governor Bill Cole has proposed increasing mandatory minimums and possibly building more prisons to deal with the drug problem. My friend Pastor Matthew Watts had a great response in today's Charleston Gazette-Mail. I highly recommend taking a look at this critique of one of the biggest policy failures of the last few decades.

Meanwhile, one possible partial solution to WV's budget woes could also help address our public health problems related to obesity. The idea in question is upping the tax on sugary drinks.

Finally, under the it's-not-all-bad category, WV's unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008, in spite of the serious slump in the coalfields.

August 16, 2016

Houston, we've got a problem

It's no secret that West Virginia, and my own county of Cabell, is ground zero for the opioid plague. As of 2015, Huntington had the highest drug overdose rate in the nation, with West Virginia "leading" the pack among states.

To get a sense of just how bad things are, consider this: yesterday between 3:30 and 9:00 pm fully 26 overdoses were reported in Huntington. It's almost miraculous, but so far nobody has died. While there's no such thing as a good batch of heroin, this one was particularly powerful. Some patients required more than one dose of naloxone to come out of it.

This year's overdose rate for the city is about the same as last year, but there is a bit of good news: the rate of overdose deaths is down by about 25 percent, from 35 last year to 26 this year.

The epidemic has got to be exhausting to the emergency medical service workers. According to this MetroNews report, some individual first responders helped save as many as eight overdose patience in one day.

This clearly shows the need for more investment in drug abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. And don't count on "the market" to provide it.