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Drug Addiction in West Virginia

There are certain drugs that have both very limited or no medical use, and are primarily sold on the street for recreational purposes. These are drugs, and they are among the most dangerous (and most illegal) of all the controlled substances. The street drugs heroin and methamphetamine are two of the most addictive substances known to man, and cocaine also has a high potential for addiction. All of these drugs present serious health risks in addition to their potential to create a crippling addiction. Drugs that have less of a potential to cause an addiction but are still equally illegal at the federal level include marijuana, hallucinogens like PCP and LSD, and “club drugs” such as Ecstasy.

These drugs effectively short-circuit the brain, causing it to produce more “good mood” chemicals than it normally does. During normal operation, the brain circulates these chemicals for a short time before they are taken back up by receptors. When the drug is present, however, it locks down these receptors, coating them so that the pleasurable mood chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are forced to continue circulating. The problem is that while the drugs are blocking the receptors, they are also damaging them. Eventually, these receptors become so damaged that they can no longer operate properly, and this is when an addiction forms.

Drug Addiction Statistics in West Virginia

At present, West Virginia is dealing with an opiate pain pill crisis. The state currently experiences the most drug overdose deaths in the nation, and the majority of these are caused by prescription pills like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. There is a common pattern of prescription pill users shifting to heroin use that has been seen around the nation, however, and West Virginia is ripe to go down this road in the near future. Prescription pills eventually become too expensive for their users, or their prescriptions cannot keep up with their consumption, and at this point they almost inevitably switch over to heroin.

The most recent White House Drug Control Report indicates that heroin abuse in the state is still relatively minimal, at least as compared to the massive abuse of pain pills. Rates of marijuana and cocaine use are currently higher, but heroin is set to surpass cocaine in the very near future. One bright spot for West Virginia is that it does not have much of a methamphetamine problem, but the state has all that it can handle with its out-of-control opioid abuse rate at present.

The Most Frequently Abused Drugs


Heroin is a synthetic drug derived from the opium poppy. It was once prescribed for medical purposes, but now exists only as an illegal drug. It is the fastest-growing drug of abuse across the United States, driven mostly by over prescription of opiate pain pills. Pure heroin is a white powder, but heroin sold on the street is usually cut with some amount of substances and is darker in color. Heroin is almost always injected intravenously, and users can be recognized by visible track marks on their arms, legs or feet.


Also called crystal meth, this drug has not made great inroads into the West Virginia area yet, but it has ravaged the Western and Midwestern states and is spreading to some of the nearby eastern states. Meth can be smoked, snorted or injected. It is a central nervous system stimulant that is known primarily for the length of the high that it produces, often keeping users awake and brimming with energy for days at a time. It is also known for inducing psychotic symptoms, and is tied to elevated rates of both property and violent crime everywhere that it is frequently used.



Cocaine is another central nervous system stimulant that is sometimes called the “rich man’s drug” because of its high price relative to other street drugs. It provides a brief but very intense sense of euphoria and energy, so addicts end up going through large quantities of it and spending a great deal of money. Cocaine can also be cut with baking soda and other substances to create a cheaper version called “crack cocaine,” which has an even higher potential for addiction. Whatever form it is in, cocaine is a serious health risk and is capable of quickly ruining someone’s life.

Health Risks of Drug Abuse

Generally speaking, street drugs present a greater health risk than prescription drugs. Each different type of drug does its own unique forms of damage, but all of the illegal drugs share some common unique risks. For example, since they are usually supplied by anonymous criminal organizations, you have no way of knowing what they are cut with or what the potency is. This greatly increases the risk of accidental overdose or poisoning by some sort of toxic substance that was never meant to be ingested.

Communicable diseases like hepatitis and AIDS are also much more common among intravenous street drug users than the general public. This is because those who shoot up commonly share needles out of cost or convenience. Intravenous drug use of all forms also ups the risk of developing cardiac infections, which puts users at higher risk for heart disease and heart attacks.

For the snorters, there is a unique and rather gross development. Those who snort cocaine or meth often enough can completely dissolve the cartilage between the nostrils. Cartilage only has a very small capacity to regenerate, and frequent snorters often easily outpace its ability to heal with the amount they are abrading with each toot.

Drug Treatment Options

Drug addiction is often very serious in nature. The procedure for treating it is generally to start with medical detox for at least a few days, then to move on to a period of inpatient treatment. The minimum length of time for an inpatient stay is generally 30 days, but those with serious addiction issues often stay longer, sometimes staying the better part of a year. Each facility sets its own terms about the length of stay, but there are many facilities that offer flexibility and treatment plans tailored to individual needs.

Pick up the phone and contact an addiction specialist today if you have any questions, or simply to discuss your options. Refuse to put your life on hold for one more day.