Workshop focuses on opioid crisis

BUCKHANNON — About 80 people came together Friday to look in-depth at the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

The Opioid Crisis: Victims, Causes and Solutions workshop was hosted by Mountain CAP of West Virginia through a grant from the West Virginia Office of Community Advancement and Development.

Kathy McMurray, executive director at Mountain CAP of West Virginia, welcomed those in attendance and shared a little about the organization’s purpose before diving into the workshop.

“We have many occupations represented here today,” she said. “We have social workers, law enforcement, teachers, health care providers, therapists, advocates and others. All of us are touched professionally, and many maybe even personally through family members or friends, by this opioid and other drugs crisis.

“It is having a devastating personal and social impact in our communities, across our state. I hope that by attending this day of training we are all just a little bit better educated about some of the causes and ramifications of addiction and that we are all just a little bit more prepared to do what we can to ameliorate the suffering as we work together to find and implement solutions toward a brighter future.”

In the afternoon, Dr. Michael R. Brumage, assistant dean for Public Health and Service at West Virginia University and director of the W.Va. DHHR Office of Drug Control Policy, presented on the Adverse Child Experiences and the Opioid Crisis: Effects on Children — Past, Present and Future.

Brumage presented the results of an Adverse Childhood Experience study, which measures 10 categories of childhood abuse and neglect. The study found that ACE scores are linked to physical and mental health problems.

“What is unrecognized in the pediatric exam room shows up in the internal medicine exam room decades later,” he said.

Compared to people with no adverse childhood experiences, those with four or more ACEs were two times more likely to smoke, two time more likely to have cancer or heart disease, six times more likely to be depressed, six times more likely to engage in sexual intercourse before age 15, seven times more likely to be alcoholics, 10 times more likely to inject drugs and 13 times more likely to have attempted suicide, the study found.

“You will live a shorter and more brutal life if you have an ACE score of four or more,” Brumage said. “We as physicians don’t ask the question. Patients are waiting to be validated. It’s our own discomfort about asking these questions.”

Those questions include asking if patients were abuse physically, emotionally or sexually in their first 18 years, if a household member went to prison, if they live with household members who abuse alcohol or drugs, etc.

Among the other programs, Kelli Caseman — director of Child Health, chair of W.Va. Kids’ Health Partnership: West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and state director of the Mountaineer Autism Project — spoke about children abandoned in the opioid crisis. Rebecca Crowder, executive director at Lily’s Place, and Rhonda Edmunds, director of nursing and co-founder at Lily’s Place, presented on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

McMurray recognized deputy director of Mountain CAP/director of family services Tracy Shroyer-Carlyle and Lori Ann Hagi, executive assistant and asset development coordinator, for their work in organizing the workshop.

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