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The people of West Virginia have until this Friday, January 19, to submit their comments on a new opioid response plan developed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

The proposed plan can be seen on the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health website at www.dhhr.wv.gov/bph. Here’s a link directly to a PDF of the plan.

Comments will be accepted via email at bphcommunications@wv.gov, or by mail, to DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, c/o Opioid Response Plan Comment, 350 Capitol Street, Room 702, Charleston, WV 25301

The proposed opioid response plan includes high-priority, short-term recommendations in six areas:

  1. Prevention:
    West Virginia should expand the authority of medical professional boards and public health officials to stop inappropriate prescribing of pain medications.
    West Virginia should limit the duration of initial opioid prescriptions.
  2. Early Intervention:
    West Virginia should expand awareness of addiction as a treatable disease by developing a public education campaign to address misinformation and associated stigma.
    West Virginia should expand promising law-enforcement diversion programs, such as the LEAD model, to help people experiencing a drug problem access treatment and achieve sustained recovery.
    West Virginia should strengthen support for lifesaving comprehensive harm reduction policies by removing legal barriers to programs that are based on scientific evidence and by adding resources.
  3. Treatment:
    Reflecting the need for all patients to have access to multiple options for treatment, West Virginia should require a statewide quality strategy for opioid use disorder treatment and remove regulatory barriers to the expansion of effective treatment.
    West Virginia should expand access to effective substance use disorder treatment in hospital emergency departments and the criminal justice system in order to reach people at key moments of opportunity.
  4. Overdose Reversal:
    West Virginia should require all first responders to carry naloxone and be trained in its use, support community-based naloxone programs, and authorize a standing order for naloxone prescriptions to improve insurance coverage.
    West Virginia should require hospital emergency departments and Emergency Medical Services to notify DHHR’s Bureau of Public Health of nonfatal overdoses for the purpose of arranging for outreach and services.
  5. Supporting Families with Substance Use Disorder:
    West Virginia should expand effective programs that serve families, including Drug Free Moms and Babies, home visitation programs, and comprehensive services for the families of children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome such as Lily’s Place.
    West Virginia should expand access to long-acting reversible contraception and other contraceptive services for men and women with substance use disorders in multiple settings.
  6. Recovery:
    West Virginia should continue pursuing a broad expansion of peer-based supports.

“Governor Jim Justice has asked that we utilize all resources at our disposal to combat this epidemic,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “Beginning today, our primary focus is to fight this problem on all fronts, and this plan is a crucial step in meeting that goal.”

The plan was developed through public engagement and expert input. The preliminary report was prepared by an expert panel after review of more than 300 public comments, a public meeting on December 21, 2017, and input from state agencies.

For more information visit dhhr.wv.gov/bph/

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