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What is the most popular drug in West Virginia?

This guide will cover the most prevalent addiction problem in West Virginia - the opioid epidemic. Though marijuana is the most popular drug, opioids are a close second and cause the most harm to the state. We will cover statistics, what the state is doing to combat the problem, and resources for finding help. This guide will also cover Alabama alcohol laws, marijuana laws and medical marijuana laws, as well as information and resources for DUI charges.  If you are in immediate need of help for an addiction in Alabama, please visit our West Virginia medical detox locator.

West Virginia Hit Hard by Opioids

The entire nation is now aware of the magnitude of the opioid epidemic, which has been manifesting since the 1990s. Unfortunately, West Virginia is particularly aware of this health crisis and is one of the hardest hit regions in the country. Some in the state claim entire neighborhoods and families have been completely wiped out from opioid painkillers, including both prescription drugs and heroin. A so-called perfect storm in The Mountain State is causing astronomical numbers of individuals desperately needing help and record numbers of drug overdose deaths. In fact, West Virginia has the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the nation. In 2016, at least 818 people died of drug overdose in West Virginia. This is 13% higher than 2015, with 725 overdose deaths. Some states have not seen quite the wrath which has plagued West Virginia and many are asking why this state, in particular, is in such crisis.

Opioid addiction is so rampant in West Virginia is have even begun to affect the workforce. Senator Joe Manchin claims that up to 50% of the decline in workforce participation could be attributed to opioid use but some claim this number is exaggerated. Nationally, 20-25% of the drop in workforce participation can be directly linked to opioid use, so it is possible this number is higher in The Mountain State since it is suffering some of the highest rates of addiction in the country.

Some Answers and Statistics

Some answers derive from lack of economic opportunities, lack of quality health care, and even plain boredom. This was combined with massive marketing campaigns by opioid drug manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma for instance, who released the drug OxyContin in 1996. Purdue in particular aggressively misrepresented the risks of the drug and rewarded doctors with prescribing habits. OxyContin, which contains the active ingredient oxycodone, is a powerful opioid painkiller that many consider “legal heroin.”

"Between 2007 and 2012, 780 million doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were shipped into West Virginia, the equivalent of 430 pills per resident."

West Virginians even began to refer to the drug as “hillbilly heroin” due to its accessibility in The Mountain State compared to heroin. A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette-Mail found that between the years of 2007 and 2012, pharmaceutical companies shipped 780 million doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone into West Virginia. That’s the equivalent of 430 pills per resident.

Many of the now addicted drug users in West Virginia first obtained opioids for legitimate reason but, due to lack of education, misrepresentation of the drugs, and reckless prescribing standards, residents found themselves helplessly addicted to their pain medication. When their prescriptions ran out or when they could no longer afford prescriptions, they turned to a thriving illicit drug market, which has been tainted with the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

"Many of the now addicted drug users in West Virginia first obtained opioids for legitimate reasons."

Fentanyl is the primary cause of opioid related deaths because it is 50-100 times stronger than morphine and up to 50 times stronger than heroin. There have even been many reports of counterfeit prescription drugs, like OxyContin, which actually contain the deadly additive, opposed to the real ingredient oxycodone.

West Virginia Starts To Fight Back

According to the Department of Human Health and Resources (DHHR) in a statement released on November 30, 2017: "In 2017, Gov. Justice signed into law House Bill 2620 creating the Office of Drug Control Policy under the direction of the DHHR's Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch and the supervision of Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. A vital mission of the Office of Drug Control Policy is to develop the opioid response plan and recommendations to address this crisis." Though the statement went onto say that a plan of action will not be delivered to the Governor and the Legislature until mid-2018.

"A plan of action will not be delivered to the Governor and the Legislature until mid-2018."

Dr. Gupta said in a statement released by the DHHR that, "the DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy will coordinate with a panel of public health experts from West Virginia University, Marshall University, and Johns Hopkins University. Our goal will be to utilize available evidence and best practices to provide
the highest priority recommendations for immediate action to reduce overdose deaths and the impact of the opioid epidemic on our families and communities.”

Sources and Resources

If you are seeking help for an opioid addiction you can call our toll-free helpline or use any of the resources to the right. If you have health insurance, our licensed specialists can help you find a program that is covered under your plan. We can also give you advice, guidance, and information about opioid addiction treatment options and what methods are proven to be most successful. For your convenience, we have listed some alternative resources as well as the sources we used to complile the statistics and information in the sections above. We have national resources as well as resources from the West Virginia Departmet of Health and Human Resources. We also list the link to the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative report by Eric Eyre, which exposed the massively disproportionate importation of oxycodone and hydrocodone into the state of West Virginia by pharmcuetical companies like Purdue.

Types of West Virginia Detox Centers

Find Detox Centers in West Virginia

For your convenience, here are some quick links to find medical detox centers in your city. These are the most populous cities in West Virginia. If you do not see your city listed, you can go to our homepage to search by zip code. You can also search by map and list of cities. If you are in a crisis or in immediate need of help, please call our toll-free crisis line to talk to a caring licensed addiction counselor. Our representatives can help you find a convenient medical detox center that either falls under your budget or is completely covered by your insurance. Don't hesitate to call us 24/7 - 365 days a year.

Alabama Alcohol Laws and FAQS

Drinking age:

21. No person under the age of 21 may purchase or consume alcohol, even at home under parent supervision.

Where can you buy closed bottles of alcoholic beverages in West Virginia?

West Virginia no longer has “ABC” stores, like its neighbor, Virginia. In West Virginia, beer, wine, and hard liquor can all be bought in grocery stores. Monday-Saturday beer and wine can be sold from 7:00 am until 2:00 am and liquor can be sold from 8:00 am until 12:00 am. Bars/restaurants may serve alcohol until 3:00 am Monday-Saturday.

Blue Laws

West Virginia is one of the few states that partake in certain alcohol control laws referred to as blue laws, which are common throughout the South. In West Virginia, this means the sale of hard liquor is prohibited on Sundays, even in bars and restaurants. Beer and wine sales are permitted but starting at 1:00 pm until 2:00 am. Starting this year, some counties may have changed their local blue laws. In 2016, the state permitted counties to hold local elections to change their Sunday sales of beer and wine from 1:00 pm to 10:00 am.

ABV Caps

Prior to 2009, all beer sold in West Virginia could only contain between 0.5% ABV and 6% ABV. This effectively banned 2/3 of all beer produced around the world from being sold in The Mountain State. In 2009, the state legislature passed the “Craft Beer Bill,” which raised the ABV cap to 12% ABV.

Driving and Open Containers

In West Virginia, the driver and passenger of vehicles are prohibited from drinking while the car is in motion, though open containers are not against the law. For any person under the age of 21, the DUI BAC limit is .02. For persons over 21, it is the standard .08.

In West Virginia, a person may refuse to take a field sobriety test without punishment. However, a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test can result in a license suspension of up to 1 year. A DUI conviction results in a license suspension of 6 months. Second and third offenses are suspensions of 1 year. A fourth DUI conviction is a felony and can result in jail time and hefty fines. Judges can also mandate blow-to-start (breathalyzer) car ignition devices as well as drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

If you get a DUI in West Virginia, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney, take a DUI class, or even attend an alcohol addiction treatment program. This could significantly help your case.

Marijuana Laws and FAQS

Medical Marijuana

In April of 2017, West Virginia became the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana. It does still have certain restrictions, for instance, it may not be sold in its natural flower form. It will likely be sold as oils and concentrates, which can be dosed more accurately. The program will not begin until no sooner than July of 2019, at which point they can receive a prescription from a specially licensed physician. Patients may qualify for medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions:

  • A terminal illness
  • Cancer
  • ALS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Intractable seizures
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Or “severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective as determined as part of continuing care.”

Non-medical Use

As an illicit drug, marijuana is still highly restricted and can carry harsh penalties. The possession of any amount is a misdemeanor and can result in 90 days to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

The sale, distribution, or trafficking of marijuana in West Virginia is a felony and carries a minimum sentence of 1 year in jail and up to 5 years in prison with up to $15,000 in fines. The sale of marijuana to a minor or within 1000 ft of a school carries a mandatory jail sentence of 2 years.

Because West Virginia recently legalized medical marijuana, non-medical penalties may become less harsh. This is because marijuana is still defined as a Schedule I drug in The Mountain State, which means, defined by law, it holds absolutely 0 medical value, therefore making it considered a dangerous “hard” drug. Rescheduling a drug to a prescription controlled substance usually decreases the fines of illicit possession. This all depends on the state legislature, though. Likely, the drug will be rescheduled to Schedule II (alongside oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and other powerful prescription painkillers typically intended for terminal illness or severe pain) or Schedule III (alongside codeine, buprenorphine, and other “weaker” narcotics).

Civil forfeiture

After a drug conviction, the state has the power to confiscate many of your belongings. The law states that everything involved in the production and transportation processes of controlled substances, including cars, houses, and monetary funds or bank accounts, are liable to be forfeited to the State after a successful prosecution of a drug distribution or manufacturing case.