WASHINGTON – In the last decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of fatal overdoses in West Virginia has nearly tripled, nearly 85 percent of them linked to controlled substances including opioids. Nationally, the CDC estimates 91 of the more than 140 Americans who die each day from drug overdose fall victim to opioids.

To help combat the state’s growing epidemic, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of $2,434,127 in incremental funding to WorkForce West Virginia to support job creation and workforce training services in eight localities. The award will support efforts in the communities of Beckley, Bluefield, Charleston, Huntington, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Wheeling, which have suffered significant social and economic impacts from widespread opioid use, addiction and overdose.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Opioid Disaster Recovery Dislocated Worker Grants create temporary jobs in peer recovery positions and provide services to reintegrate workers affected by the opioid crisis into the workforce.

In 2021, the CDC determined fatal overdoses claimed more than 1,417 West Virginia lives, with 1,201 attributed to opioids. An estimated 500 people there died by overdose in 2010, 70 percent of them blamed on controlled substances. In October 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the award is the second allocation of a $10 million National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant awarded in May 2019. State officials estimate the award will support the creation of jobs and provide workforce training for approximately 297 people.

Learn more from the National Institute on Drug Abuse about overdose deaths in West Virginia.

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