Heroin has been in the national news lately.
President Donald Trump this week called it a national public health emergency.
But it’s been an epidemic in West Virginia, so the good news is that federal help is on the way.
Federal law enforcement teams are being sent to cities in five state to stop the flow of heroin and synthetic opioids.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Friday that the goal is to combat problems associated with heroin, fentanyl and drug trafficking violence.
DEA teams are being sent to Charleston, West Virginia; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio; Long Island, New York; and New Bedford, Massachusetts.
This national announcement follows a state visit by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, and an interview with MSNBC when he said the opioid crisis is destroying families and hurting the state’s economic future.
Manchin, D-W.Va., estimated that only about 50 of the workforce is available, because the other half aren’t employable due to opioid addiction or related conviction.
West Virginia had the country’s highest opioid overdose death rate in 2015.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia’s drug overdose rate at that time was 41.5 cases per 100,000.
The next highest states were New Hampshire (34.3 per 100,000) and Kentucky (29.9 per 100,000), The Associated Press reported on March 17, 2017.
Many urban and even rural communities continue to suffer, especially Huntington and the Eastern Panhandle where heroin has primarily been trafficked from Baltimore.
CDC figures show that more than 64,000 American died from drug overdoses last year,
The bad news also continues to mount in the Mountain State.
Fatal drug overdoses continued to rise last year, and its overdose death rate still far outpaces any other state in the country, The AP reports.
A Feb. 13 analysis by the West Virginia Health Statistics Center showed at least 818 people in the state died of drug overdoses in 2016.
That’s four times the number in 2001, and nearly 13 percent increase over the 725 of overdose deaths in 2015.
About 86 percent of the 2016 deaths involved at least one opioids.
This week’s announcement is not the first time additional federal help is being offered to badly impacted areas.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in August he planned to send 12 federal prosecutors to cities with high addiction rates.
Their purpose would be to focus on investigating health care fraud and opioid scams.