West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths, cannot rely on arrests to solve the state’s problem with prescription drug abuse, officials said Thursday. Most of the overdose deaths involve prescription drugs, according to The Charleston Gazette.
At the West Virginia Drug Endangered Children Conference, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of West Virginia, released a report on how to fight prescription drug abuse in the state. Recommendations include using the state’s prescription drug monitoring system, the electronic database that tracks prescriptions for drugs with a high risk of abuse.
The report also calls on doctors to require pill counts and random drug tests for patients who are susceptible to substance abuse, and have patients agree to only use one pharmacy.
Prevention and intervention programs should begin at the elementary school level, according to the report. Other recommendations include providing more take-back programs to help people get rid of unused prescriptions, increased opportunities for health professionals to learn about prescription drug abuse, expansion of drug courts and more substance abuse screening and treatment referrals in primary care settings.
State Police Col. Jay Smithers announced at the conference that the State Police plans to meet with staff at every middle and high school in the state. They will distribute educational posters to schools, which explain prescription drug abuse is the number one killer of young people in West Virginia. The posters will provide resources for getting help for addiction, including information on how to report suspected drug crimes. Police are also meeting with pharmacists to talk about prescription drug crimes.
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