West Virginians had the highest drug-overdose death rate in the United States in 2014. We also have one of the nation's highest opioid prescription rates and are ranked in the top 10 for prescriptions given out for high-dose opioids and certain extended release medications which are subject to abuse. In the last six years, 1,728 West Virginians have fatally overdosed on hydrocodone and oxycodone pills.
Do we have a drug abuse problem here in West Virginia? Yes, we do.
What could be the cause of it? Is it because too many drugs are pouring into our state, or is that merely a symptom of some other problems?
If there are other underlying causes, shouldn't the persons and entities responsible for these problems be held accountable for the harm being done?
Let's face it: contented people have far fewer drug problems.
But why should West Virginians be discontented and distraught? Could it be because the public servants we've elected to represent us have let us down – by perpetually raising taxes and increasing regulations to the point where they've dried up job opportunities, driven away employers, and damaged our economy, making it impossible for us to live good lives in the communities we grew up in and forcing us to witness our families and friends reluctantly move away?
No, that couldn't be it. It must be the drug companies. They make the drugs. They're the ones to blame. That has to be the explanation. Otherwise, our public servants would have to answer for their negligence, incompetence, or ideological malice.
Maybe that's why the City of Huntington has filed suit against three drug companies, blaming them for the problem, and other municipalities are planning to do the same.
Or maybe local and state officials are a major part of the problem and something needs to be done about them?