Are overdose numbers down in Wood County?

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) It appears as if the opioid crisis, at least locally, has reached its peak.


Numbers obtained through the 911 center, for the first six months of 2019, list 128 overdose cases in Wood County. That's down from 187 a year ago, and 259 just two years ago.

But Sheriff Steve Stephens isn't sure the numbers tell the whole story.

He says they don't list people getting temporary treatment on their own, notably with Narcan, and those are not reported publicly.

Furthermore, the sheriff believes, in spite of the growing number of available treatment facilities and options, a lot of addicts still aren't getting help.

"That's what gets frustrating for everybody, including the general public," Stephens said Tuesday. "They hear about all these overdoses, they see the needles, they see what's going on. And yet, there are beds available, and people aren't taking advantage of them."

The sheriff says legislative action may be needed, allowing addicts to be taken into custody, so they can be forced to seek treatment.

He hopes a more practical solution is encouragement from their peers who have faced the same problem.

"People will listen to someone who's been in that situation long before they'll listen to me. When they talk to people of their own kind who have felt their pain and gone through those lifestyles, I think they have a better understanding and a better influence of trying to get these people help than we do as law enforcement."

Nine confirmed overdose deaths have been reported in Wood County since the first of the year. One confirmed death has been reported in Washington County.