U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (D-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced West Virginia University (WVU) will receive more than $379,000 to increase the number of accredited addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry fellowships there.
The senators, both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the funding, made through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will support WVU in training addiction specialists to help the state address addiction in its communities.
“It is great to see this support coming into West Virginia to help continue to battle the addiction crisis,” Capito said. “Addiction specialists are crucial to our state’s recovery, and being able to train these students at WVU creates a direct impact in our communities. This program will train specialists to have the knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive health care to people suffering from opioid abuse, substance abuse, and mental health disorders. Combating the addiction crisis remains a top priority, even with the other challenges our state continues to face, and I will continue to drive critical resources to West Virginia to battle addiction.”
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of opioid addiction in the country and has been considered the epicenter of opioid addiction for the United States. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, West Virginia saw 41.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in the state in 2015. In recent years, overdose deaths seem to be declining since reaching a peak in 2017. In 2018, drug overdose deaths totaled only 702 for that state, a decline from the 2017 high of 833, roughly 49.6 overdose deaths per 100,000 people.
“The opioid epidemic has ravaged our state, and every West Virginian has been impacted by this crisis. West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate per capita in the nation, and far too many West Virginians have lost family, friends, and loved ones to this epidemic,” Manchin said. “We need an all hands on deck approach to combat this crisis, and this funding is vital in treating substance use disorder for West Virginians across our state. I won’t stop fighting this epidemic and will continue advocating for funding that helps West Virginians combat this crisis.”