Survey: Opioid addiction most important health issue in West Virginia
Opioid addiction now ranks as the number number one health issue in West Virginia –above obesity, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dental disease — according to a survey of state residents released Monday.
Commissioned by Research!America, a self described nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance, the survey indicates that 84 percent of West Virginians say prescription pain medication abuse and addiction is a major problem in their community. And 71 percent of those whose responded to the survey say they know someone who experienced pain so severe they sought prescription medicines to treat it.
A survey of 403 state residents was conducted by Zogby Analytics in September 2017.
When asked about barriers to effectively combating the opioid epidemic, 70 percent of respondents indicated overprescribing of opioids; 49 percent said lack of coordination between state and federal governments; 45 percent indicated lack of access to treatment; and 41 percent said lack of funding for research and prevention.
When asked for potential solutions, 63 percent indicated a White House declaration that the opioid epidemic is a national emergency will support local efforts to address the crisis. A federal emergency declaration could expedite access to resources. Seventy-seven percent of respondents say they support increased federal funding for research to better understand and combat the opioid addiction.
An estimated 86 percent of state residents say it is important for medical records to prominently state whether a patient is recovering from addiction to prevent overprescribing of opioids in the same way they are marked if a patient is allergic to penicillin. In addition And 54 percent of respondents agree that opioid deaths in the state can be reduced by increasing access to opioid overdose reversal drugs in the state’s schools and public facilities such as libraries.
“West Virginia is grappling with a public health crisis that requires increased support for research and innovative solutions to save lives and revitalize communities hit hard by the epidemic,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America.