West Virginia Can See When Opioid Overdose Spikes Will Happen

West Virginia is aggregating data from Maryland to get a 48 to 72 hour head start on preparing for a spike in opioid overdoses. 

According to an article published by Government Computer News (GNC), West Virginia is considered to be “the end of the line” when it comes to drug trafficking across the state’s southeast and midwestern borders, according to a GNC interview with Matthew Christiansen, West Virginia’s Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy.

The geographic correlations are mapped by an overdose detection program that is pulling in data from government agencies within the state and the surrounding areas. As the system begins seeing a trend in overdoses across western Maryland, officials in West Virginia sound the alarm to regional coordinators and community stakeholders to be prepared for an influx of overdoses in the next 48 to 72 hours.

While this information is useful, officials say they would like to see more information regarding the availability and efficacy of programs on the ground.

From the article, Director Christiansen shared:

Metrics will help ensure “that those interventions are having a direct impact on the lives of the people that we’re trying to help so that we’re not wasting time, we’re not wasting money, we’re only putting our resources towards the things that we know are going to work,” he said.

Opioid overdoses in Maryland have been a serious issue since the onset of the opioid crisis. While local governments have rushed to get resources in place to help citizens with an opioid use disorder a targeted approach to combatting overdoses has taken root in county jails. Legislation passed in 2019 requiring the availability of medication assisted treatment for inmates found to have an opioid use disorder by January 1st, 2023.  The upcoming MACo Winter conference is set to host a panel titled, “Caring for the Incarcerated: Navigating Rehabilitation and Mental Health Reform,” which will dive into the efforts and challenges around the roll out of these programs as the deadline approaches.

MACo’s Winter Conference, “Hit the Ground Running,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, MD from January 4-6, 2023 (with a pre-conference orientation for new county officials on January 3).

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: