WV STILL LEADING NATION WITH DRUG DEATHS - State Has Among Highest Incarceration Rates In USA

West Virginia maintained its status as the top state in the nation for drug overdose deaths in 2018 despite a decline from a year earlier, according to data released just after midnight Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The overdose death rate in West Virginia declined nearly 11 percent in West Virginia in 2018 compared to the year before, falling to 51.5 per 100,000 people in 2018 from 57.8 per 100,000 in 2017, according to the CDC.

In WV most drug deaths of individuals are not made public, although some families have been including the loss in obituaries.

Few WV Virginia families have not been affected by the disease of addiction, with the state locking up more addicts, having among the highest incarceration rates in the USA.

The High Cost of Mass Incarceration in West Virginia: Over the last 30 years, the number of West Virginians incarcerated has grown nearly fi ve-fold despite a decline in the state’s population over this time. This steep rise is not due to rising crime rates in West Virginia, but the policy choices made by lawmakers to use imprisonment as a response to crime.

The rate is still more than twice the national average of 20.7 overdose deaths per 100,000 in 2018, which is down from 21.7 in 2017. Nationwide, deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, but excluding methadone, increased 10 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, and 890 percent in the five years from 2013 to 2018.

Overdose deaths involving cocaine more than tripled nationally from 2012 to 2018 from 1.4 per 100,000 to 4.5, and the rate for deaths involving psychostimulants with potential for abuse, including methamphetamine, increased nearly fivefold from 0.8 per 100,000 population to 3.9.

The new data also shows life expectancy in the U.S. increased for the first time in four years. This was attributed to an overall decline in drug overdoses in the nation for the first time in 28 years and a decline in 6 of the 10 leading causes of death.

Death rates in two categories — suicide and influenza/pneumonia — increased, however.

“As a result of this decline in overall mortality, life expectancy at birth for the U.S. population in 2018 increased 0.1 year from 2017 to 78.7 years,” the CDC reported.

“Life expectancy had declined in two of the past three years prior to 2018, and the 2018 estimate is still lower than the peak of 78.9 years in 2014. Over half the increase in life expectancy in 2018 was due to declines in mortality from cancer and accidents/unintentional injuries.”