West Virginia is known for classic country songs, the Blue Ridge mountains, and — drug overdoses? Yes, this classically American state has a drug and alcohol epidemic. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released an intelligence report in 2017 on West Virginia’s drug situation.

According to this report, controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) are responsible for the majority of overdose deaths in this scenic state. Other threats mentioned, though, include coke, crack, pot, heroin, fentanyl, and meth.

West Virginia is a gorgeous state filled with cultured, beautiful residents. The right resources can help West Virginians recover from an alcohol or substance use disorder.

The State of Drug and Alcohol Addiction in West Virginia


People resort to drugs and alcohol for different reasons. Yet, certain factors like poverty and chronic pain increase the risk. West Virginia has a high level of poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16% of the West Virginia population is impoverished. In comparison, the national poverty level is around 10%.

This could be a reason why West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country in 2015. The number of drug overdose deaths was two times higher than deaths from car accidents. Controlled prescription drug (CPD) addiction is a problem in West Virginia. It’s easy to overdose on drugs like these. Also, the DEA writes that this state has problems with heroin, fentanyl, meth, coke, crack, and marijuana.

Controlled Prescription Drugs

West Virginia has the highest rate of prescriptions for opioids. Opioid use has led to 61% of overdose deaths in this state in 2015. The DEA attributes this to the large concentration of heavy manual labor jobs. Examples include mining, timbering, and manufacturing. Jobs like these often result in injury. CPDs mask severe, chronic pain.

The DEA notes that West Virginians get CPDs illegally in these ways:

  • Fake prescriptions
  • Corrupt pharmacists steal them
  • Faking a problem to get a prescription
  • Robbing pharmacies
  • Out-of-state drug trafficking

Heroin, Fentanyl, and Pharmaceutical Narcotics

Novel opioids, heroin, and fentanyl are cheaper to buy illegally than CPDs. Individuals suffering from a substance use disorder may buy one of these instead for this reason. They also consume these drugs accidentally. Drug dealers will cut heroin with fentanyl. This has led to more than a 20% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths from 2012 to 2015.

Crystal Meth

Methamphetamines are a lesser problem in West Virginia. However, meth abuse is still a widespread problem compared to that of cocaine, crack, and marijuana. Cases might increase because of the availability of it. According to the DEA, crystal meth is sourced in Mexico.

Cocaine and Crack

Out-of-state traffickers send supplies of crack and cocaine out in the mail. In turn, traffickers in West Virginia sell it. Powder cocaine is more popular in this state.


West Virginia has stopped hundreds of marijuana growing operations. In 2015, West Virginia was one of the states that produced the most marijuana in the country. Yet, a steady supply comes from Mexico and states where marijuana is legal.

How To Choose the Right Rehab in West Virginia


The statistics above show that there’s a wide variety of substance use disorders in West Virginia. When a person isn’t in control of their lives anymore, it’s time to seek help. A reputable drug and alcohol rehab can help provide the skills needed for recovery. Think about these factors beforehand to pick the right treatment center for you.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

In an inpatient program, a patient stays at the facility. This may also be known as residential treatment. It’s best for people that have a moderate to severe addiction. Residential treatment allows patients to focus on recovery, but this is typically more expensive than outpatient.

Certain insurance policies cover residential treatment in full. If not, many cover a portion of it. It’s a good option to go with for an intense form of treatment. Residential programs last one to six months long on average. However, not everyone can live at a rehab, especially caretakers and parents. In this case, an outpatient program is an alternative solution. Patients in outpatient programs won’t live at the addiction treatment center.

Outpatient programs include: 

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • General outpatient programs (OP)

Partial hospitalization programs are the most demanding form of outpatient treatment. Patients spend the entire day and sometimes evening at the facility. IOPs are also intense but take less time per day. General outpatient programs are the least intense. They’re more suited for those who have just finished inpatient treatment.

Gender-Specific vs Mixed

Make sure that the addiction treatment center you want to go to has the type of program you’re interested in. For example, Harmony Ridge offers a men’s rehab program. Studies show that men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than women.

Women typically use drugs in different ways than men. Additionally, they react differently to treatment. It’s because of their body and brain chemistry.

Here is how women use drugs differently than men: 

  • They’re less likely to inject heroin
  • Women have higher rates of using tranquilizers
  • They’re more likely to have a social or psychological problem even with less drug use
  • Mood and anxiety disorders are more common in women with or without a drug addiction

An addiction treatment center that has gender-specific programs may be better for you. It comes down to a matter of preference. Some find that treatment geared toward a specific gender helps more than a mixed program.

Mental Health in West Virginia


The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Bureau for Behavioral Health (BBH) received a grant in 2019 to help the victims of drug abuse and mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded the grant to help with West Virginia’s opioid epidemic. The grant funds the following programs:

  • Recovery to Work: Statewide help to give recovering addicts the tools needed to land a steady job
  • Children’s System: Increased support for mental health programs in schools
  • More funding to help addiction and mental illness call-lines, specifically Help4WV
  • Expanded funding for pregnant women with substance use disorders
  • Approved expansion for opioid addiction treatment in 14 facilities for medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

SAMHSA believes there is a relationship between drug use and mental illness. Data collected shows that 9.5 million American adults had a mental illness and substance use disorder in 2019. In the same year, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported 51.5 million U.S. adults had a mental illness.

So, 18% of people with a mental illness in 2019 also had a substance use disorder. When a person has a drug addiction and mental illness, it’s known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. It affects many West Virginians in addiction treatment centers.

Get Help With Mental Health in West Virginia

About 5.5% of West Virginian adults suffer from a serious mental health disorder, yet only 53.1% of them receive treatment. West Virginia is ranked 43rd out of 50 in the U.S. in terms of access to mental health care. Despite this, there are resources available to get help with mental health in this state:

  • West Virginia Medicaid: Medicaid provides health care services to people with low income. Residents of West Virginia can apply for this program through the West Virginia Health Marketplace.
  • West Virginia 211: This referral service and helpline assists those in West Virginia find mental health services. Just dial 211 on the phone 24/7.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (West Virginia):  The National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI, is a national mental illness advocacy group. They have a chapter in West Virginia.
  • Help4WV: A 24-hour hotline to help people in West Virginia with addiction and mental illness.

Transportation Assistance in West Virginia


The West Virginia Public Transit Association found that adults in West Virginia wanted to get over an opioid addiction. However, they didn’t have a way to get to an addiction treatment center. Hence, this association set up a dispatch line to get a free ride to an addiction treatment facility.

The only requirement is that the ride is to a center that treats substance use disorders. There are no other requirements and no questions asked. This is an initiative started to deescalate the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

Drug and Alcohol Programs in West Virginia


Harmony Ridge offers different programs to assist those struggling with a substance use disorder in West Virginia. Not every program is for you. That’s why we come up with individualized plans to suit every patient. Here are some of the programs that you may be interested in:

  • Detox: This program helps patients get rid of the buildup of toxins from drugs and alcohol. Medical and clinical professionals will put together a detox plan to keep patients comfortable and healthy.
  • Residential Treatment: A program like this offers 24/7, continuous support as a patient lives at the facility. It’s best for patients who have just completed a detox.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT helps patients recover from a substance use disorder through the use of medicine. They will help with withdrawal symptoms and help rebalance the body’s chemistry.
  • Outpatient Programs: Harmony Ridge offers PHPs and IOPs depending on a patient’s severity. Each offers different benefits depending on a person’s lifestyle.
  • Therapy: Therapy is a crucial part of recovery. We provide individual and family therapy. Also, we offer popular forms of therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and trauma recovery. Additionally, we provide patients with alternative therapy options (ie: art therapy and holistic therapy).

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to drug and alcohol programs in West Virginia. An admissions counselor can initially help you with programs you might be interested in. Treatment can always be adjusted if it doesn’t suit your needs.

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