A multi-year opioid-focused program to strengthen recovery services in West Virginia


FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, oxycodone pills are displayed in New York. Newly released federal data shows how drugmakers and distributors increased shipments of opioid painkillers across the U.S. as the nation’s addiction crisis accelerated from 2006 to 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health is spearheading the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program.

It’s a multi-year opioid-focused initiative by the Health Resources and Services Administration that focuses on rural areas, due to the limitations to healthcare access and community resources in those regions. 

The project aims to strengthen opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services in Calhoun, Gilmer, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Jackson and Tyler counties. 

“They are some of the more rural counties in the state and have been hit the hardest with the opioid epidemic. Additionally, the partners in this project are co-located in this region and they’ve had good longstanding working relationships, so it seemed like a natural fit.”

Brianna Sheppard, PhD
Assistant director for the Institute for Community and Rural Health and the project’s principal investigator

In terms of prevention, the program will focus on reducing the stigma around having an opioid or substance abuse disorder, to educate people on treatments and to increase the number of primary care and behavioral health workforce providers.

In terms of recovery, the program will utilize peer recovery specialists and assist people as they transition from having an addiction to being in recovery.

The program is in collaboration with the following organizations:

  • Mid-Ohio Valley Rural Health Alliance
  • Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department
  • Minnie Hamilton Health System
  • Northern West Virginia Rural Health Education Center
  • Westbrook Health Services

“There will definitely be some lessons learned and we hope for the same for the other groups that are fighting the good fight for the other parts of the state.”


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