CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia faced many struggles with the overprescribing of opioids in recent years, but now it’s street drugs that are causing the most deaths. Specifically, fentanyl.
“I had overdosed 11 times,” said Jordan Dennison, Peer Recovery Coach at First Choice Services. “I was an addict for a little over 10 years. I was in-and-out of jail. Thankfully, I found a way out before it was too late for me.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be deadly in small amounts. Fentanyl deaths doubled from over 32,500 fatalities to over 64,000 nationwide, in two years between April 2019 and April 2021.
In West Virginia, there were over 1,200 confirmed overdoses reported in 2020. Officials Fentanyl overdoses are increasing in the state in 2021.
“A large part is due to the pandemic, but also due to the fact there’s more fentanyl in the illicit drug supply. That has led to fentanyl being the leading cause of death. Particularly, for younger people,” said Dr. Susan Bissett, President of West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute.
The epidemic of illegal drugs continues to plague West Virginians from all walks of life like recovering addict, Dennison.
“I’ve been in recovery going on three and a half years now, and I think what it did for me was, I was just tired of hurting everyone around me. I really just destroyed every relationship I had ever been in,” said Dennison.
Dr. Bissett says you can help prevent overdoses by taking an online naloxone, or narcan training course, and carrying the opioid reversal drug at all times, and like Dennison, there is walking proof…
“Recovery is possible,” said Dennison.