Opioid Overdoses

Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths

Revised March 2019 West Virginia has the highest age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2017, there were 833 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in West Virginia—a rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. This is double the rate in 2010 and threefold higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The sharpest increase in opioid-involved overdose deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl): a rise from 122 deaths in 2014 to 618 deaths in 2017 (Figure 1). Deaths involving heroin also increased significantly in the same 3-year period: from 163 to 244 deaths. Prescription opioid-involved deaths decreased by 20% from 383 in 2014 to 304 in 2017.

Figure 1. Number of overdose deaths involving opioids in West Virginia, by opioid category. Drug categories presented are not mutually exclusive, and deaths might have involved more than one substance. Source: CDC WONDER.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2017, West Virginia providers wrote 81.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons (Figure 2), compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This was among the top ten rates in the United States that year (CDC); however, it was also the lowest rate in the state since data became available in 2006. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has also followed a decreasing trend from a peak of 27.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2011 to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017

Figure 2. West Virginia age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids and the opioid prescribing rate. Source: CDC and CDC WONDER.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births. This is the equivalent of one baby born with symptoms of NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOWS births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation (Figure 3).

In West Virginia, the rate of NAS/NOWS cases doubled in the 3-year period between 2011 and 2014, from 25.2 cases to 51.2 cases per 1,000 hospital births. The highest rates of NAS/NOWS were reported from Marshall and Lincoln counties (10.21 and 10.66 cases per 1,000 hospital births, respectively) (West Virginia Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health).

Figure 3. NAS/NOWS Incidence rate and hospital costs for treatment in the United States. Source: T.N.A. Winkelman, et al., 2018.

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

Figure 4. West Virginia: Estimated percent of male vs. female with new HIV diagnoses, by transmission category, 2016. Source: CDC and www.AIDSVU.org.

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, 9 percent (3,480) of the 39,589 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among males, 6.3 percent (2,530) of new cases were transmitted via IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 2.3 percent (950) were transmitted via IDU. (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2016, 991,447 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 306.6 cases per 100,000 persons. Among males, 19.9 percent (150,4661) contracted HIV from IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU while 21 percent (50,154) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 66 occurred in West Virginia. Among males, 18.8 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 15.4. percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU (Figure 4) (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2015, an estimated 1,781 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in West Virginia—a rate of 113 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 19.4 percent of male cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 27.5 percent were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use1

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, there were an estimated 41,200 new cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Among case reports that contain information about IDU, 68.6 percent indicated use of injection drugs (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with HCV based on 2013-2016 annual averages (CDC).
  • State Incidence: There were approximately 94 new cases of acute HCV (5.1 per 100,000 persons) reported in West Virginia in 2016 (CDC).
  • State Prevalence: In West Virginia, there are an estimated 20,800 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,430 cases per 100,000 persons (HepVu).

National Institutes of Health-Funded Research

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) are supporting services planning research grants to address a dramatic increase in adverse outcomes associated with increased opioid injection drug use in Appalachia. The grants will help develop an epidemiologic understanding of opioid injection drug use, HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection risk, and other adverse health consequences of drug use in any of the 420 Appalachian counties (http://www.arc.gov/counties).

** (Disclaimer: This video content is intended for educational and informational purposes only) ** The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office released a video which showed a man with what they say are all the signs of an overdose. He had a strong pulse but wasn’t breathing, pinpoint pupils, and he began turning blue in the face. The responding deputies administered Narcan, or naloxone hydrochloride. The drug essentially reverses an overdose. Within three minutes, the man became responsive.

“Our main goal here is to save lives, to give a person another chance,” said Corporal Sherryl Johnson-Tandy, who tracks the agency’s Narcan use and provides deputies with training. The man in the video got another chance because the deputies carried Narcan on them. “2017 was the first year that Pasco County began to experience some of the consequences associated with the opioid crisis,” said Captain Mike Jenkins.

The chemical agent has been deployed 65 times in Pasco County since March of 2017 to those who have overdosed on opioids. In 63 of those cases, Narcan revived the person. “This drug does not work if it’s a cocaine-related,” said Cpl. Johnson-Tandy. “It only works on opioids. Both of those had actual cocaine in their systems.” More than 900 Pasco County employees are trained to use Narcan. More than 660 deputies carry rescue kits on them every day. “We recognize that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” said Capt. Jenkins. “So, the deployment of Narcan is one of the strategies we are utilizing to address this issue.” Narcan is a one-time use nasal spray or it can also be administered intravenously

Ever wonder what a suburban heroin dealer looks like? Police say they’ve nabbed one…

by Kevin Lewis/ABC7Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (ABC7) — GERMANTOWN, Md. (ABC7) — For the first time in recent history, Montgomery County authorities are charging an alleged drug dealer with the death of a user they sold to.

On August 18, 2016, a husband and wife found their adult son’s lifeless body on the kitchen floor of their Germantown townhouse. They immediately called 911. Police and paramedics provided life-saving measures for 32 grueling minutes but to no avail. The young man, pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m. on that fateful night.

As CPR was being given, officers heard the victim’s cell phone rang. They later opened the unlocked device and saw a string of text messages with a contact saved as “Steve Woods.” At 10:51 p.m. Woods texted, “I see an ambulance in front of your house are you okay?” Then at 11:51 p.m., Woods texted again, “I’m praying you are okay.” Police later determined Woods was a 34-year-old man who lived only three doors down from the victim.


9:32p – heroin user texts dealer – “Thanks for hooking it up. I’ll catch you on the other end.”

10:36p – user’s parents find son dead on the kitchen floor of their Germantown townhouse. Cops have charged alleged dealer (pictured) w/ involuntary manslaughter.

Kevin Lewis@ABC7Kevin

MORE: Prosecutors have charged 34yo Stephen Woods with involuntary manslaughter.

He’s the *first* accused drug dealer in Montgomery County history to be held liable for a user’s death.

Law enforcement says it sends a stiff message.

All told, Woods faces up to 50 yrs in prison

Investigators confiscated the victim’s phone and downloaded its raw data, revealing more than eights months of text messages with Woods. Police also located a cut straw with power residue beside a couch in the basement where the victim lived. The Montgomery County Crime Lab determined the powdery substance to be fentanyl – a synthetic, cheaper, and often more potent form of traditional heroin.

In the days leading up to the fatal overdose, investigators say Woods sent multiple texts to the victim referencing “H” and “brown”, which police state are known street slang for heroin. On August 14 and 16 respectively, Woods allegedly texted, “brown in town” and “LMK if you want brown.”

Then on August 18, the day of the overdose, Woods reportedly texted the victim to say he’d tucked a new batch of drugs under a mat on his back porch. At 9:32 p.m., the victim chillingly replied, “Thanks for hooking it up. I’ll catch you on the other end.” The victim’s parents found their son unconscious only an hour later.

Now, nearly 18 months later, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office has formally indicted Woods on two counts of drug distribution and a third count of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors and police are quick to point out that this is the first criminal case in modern Montgomery County history where an alleged drug dealer is being held criminally responsible for the death of his or her customer.

Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office stated that it shows his agency is, “serious about the heroin problem.” A police department spokesman added that it’s yet another tool in the law enforcement shed to make the community safer and hold drug dealers more accountable.

According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 1,856 people statewide died from opioids in 2016 alone. That is a 255 percent increase from 2008 when the state recorded 523 opioid deaths. The highly addictive drugs do not discriminate against certain zip codes, but rather is impacting communities from Bethesda to Baltimore City. Police, paramedics, hospitals, court systems, jails, schools and substance abuse centers are being overrun with added work, while families are coming apart at the seams.

According to court paperwork, Woods is married with a young son. Law enforcement records show he has a history of drug, theft, drunk driving and traffic offenses dating back some 15 years. In fact, he was most recently charged on December 26, with driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. At the time of his arrest, he provided police with a home address in Middletown, Maryland – a small community about 10 miles northwest of downtown Frederick.


THE OUTCOME: Stephen M. Woods was found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter on Dec. 18, 2018 and sentenced by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Eric M. Johnson to ten years in prison with all of the sentence suspended except for one year which allowed him to avoid real prison time and spend the year in the relative country-club setting of the Montgomery County jail, with three years of supervised probation. On Feb. 22, 2019, Woods was allowed to be transferred to the work-release program.

Stephen Michael Woods lived at 6819 Vale Summit Lane, Middletown, Md. (DOB 06/16/1983) when he was arrested for DWI while he was awaiting trial for the fatal overdose of his heroin customer.

On Dec. 26, 2017, at 11:48 pm Woods was charged with DWI-alcohol and numerous traffic citations including leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to a vehicle as he operated a 2003 Honda at Tildenwood Drive at Montrose Road in Rockville, Md. On April 30, 2018, Woods was found guilty of the DWI charge and the other charges were dismissed. Woods was fined $1,000 sentenced to jail for three years with two years and ten months of the jail time suspended and put on supervised probation.

A possession of drugs other than marijuana, such as meth, heroin or cocaine was placed against Woods on Oct. 27, 2010 and a plea deal arranged by his attorney Warren Tydings and the Montgomery County States Attorney John McCarthy in Montgomery County Circuit Court resulted in the charge being placed on the Stet Docket on Jan. 3, 2011. Woods entered a guilty plea to a second charge of possession of marijuana and was fined $1,000 with $800 of the fine suspended and a jail term of one year also suspended in full.

Woods fled the scene of another crash in Frederick, Md., in 2006, the charge was put on the Stet Docket in Frederick County on Jan. 18, 2007. The first drug charges against Woods took place in 2002 in Montgomery County where the charges were put on the Stet Docket.

From the time of being found guilty of driving without a permit in 2011 and selling his customer a fatal dose of heroin in 2016, Woods was not charged in Maryland with any other traffic or criminal charges.

NEW JERSEY: 3 People Arrested for Narcotics Distribution

Man Arrested for Manufacturing and Distributing Narcotics

Cape May Court House, New Jersey – Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland and Chief of Detectives Paul Skill announce the conclusion of a Narcotics investigation into the distribution of Heroin in the City of Wildwood and throughout Cape May County by Gonzalo Soto.

JUNKIE KILLED WOMAN IN HEROIN HELL RIDE / Repeat Offender Christopher Dillehunt Was Given Lenient Plea Deals By Queen Anne’s Prosecutor Lance Richardson For Drug Dealing And DUI

Soto, a 40-year-old resident of the City of Wildwood, was arrested on June 25, 2019, during the execution of a Court authorized search warrant at his residence located in the 200 East Block of Rio Grande Avenue in Wildwood. This search warrant was a result of an investigation targeting Soto selling heroin from his residence, along with other locations within Cape May County.

Seized during this investigation were over one ounce of suspected heroin, synthetic marijuana, and paraphernalia consistent with the manufacturing of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) for distribution. Also seized was a total of $4,398 in U.S. Currency. The approximate street value of the drugs seized during this investigations is over $10,000.
Soto was charged with Maintaining/Operating a CDS production facility, a crime of the first degree; Manufacturing CDS, a crime of the second degree; Possession of CDS, a crime of the third degree; Possession of a synthetic cannabinoid, a crime of the third degree; Distribution of CDS, a crime of the third degree; Money laundering, a crime of the third degree and Possession of drug paraphernalia, a crime of the fourth degree.* Soto was lodged at the Cape May County Correctional Facility as per Bail Reform.
Also arrested during this investigation was Brandon N. Soto, age 19, also a resident of Wildwood, NJ.

Brandon Soto was charged with Possession of CDS, a crime of the third degree; Distribution of CDS, a crime of the third degree and Possession of drug paraphernalia a disorderly persons offense

.* Brandon Soto was released with a summons pending court proceedings as per Bail Reform.
Prosecutor Sutherland advises that persons convicted of a first-degree crime can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 15 to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison.

Prosecutor Sutherland stated that his office will continue to work hand in hand with the local municipalities to target anyone selling illegal controlled dangerous substances and he continues to urge the citizens of Cape May County to report any information regarding illegal drug activity and or any criminal activity within the community. This information can be reported anonymously through the Cape May County Sheriffs Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net and click on an anonymous tip, or through the Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-465-2800, or the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-465-1135.

Kentucky saw a slight drop in fatal overdoses in 2018

Substance abuse, particularly the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs along with heroin and illicit fentanyl, remains one of the most critical public health and safety issues facing Kentucky. For years, the annual number of Kentuckians who died from drug overdoses steadily climbed to a peak of more than 1,400 in 2017, exacting a disastrous toll on families, communities, social services, and economic growth.

In 2018, the toll was likewise devastating. Yet, the Commonwealth also saw signs that the overall trend in overdose deaths may be changing direction. For the first time since 2013, overdose deaths among Kentucky residents declined, falling from 1,477 in 2017 to 1,247 last year – a 15 percent decrease equivalent to 230 lives. When the totals include individuals who died in Kentucky but were not residents, the decrease is similar – 1,566 in 2017 reduced to 1,333 in 2018, a decrease of 233 deaths. We believe this reversal is due in large part to a number of program and policy initiatives underway in Kentucky, including the statewide use of prescription drug monitoring programs, expanded availability of naloxone and substance abuse treatment, and the enactment of laws specifically addressing the availability of prescription medications.

The most recent of these laws, House Bill 333, limited opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a three-day supply with certain exceptions. The law also increased penalties for trafficking in heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. In addition, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Operation UNITE launched a new substance abuse call center to connect people across the state with drug treatment.

The KY HELP Call Center provides referrals to both public and private treatment providers in real-time. Kentuckians struggling with a substance use disorder, either themselves or within their families, can call 1-833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) toll-free to speak with a live specialist about treatment options and available resources. The specialists conduct a brief screening assessment in order to connect callers with the most relevant treatment services as quickly as possible. Options include everything from medication-assisted treatment to faith-based care, and the specialist helps callers work through all the variables, such as location and cost.