The Christian Science Monitor

With compassionate outreach, a city cuts its drug overdose rate in half

Paramedic Larrecsa Cox heads a new Quick Recovery Team in Huntington, W.Va., that visits residents within 72 hours of an overdose. Here, she is driving home Jim Ward, an individual she helped when he was in the final stages of being hired for a new job as a cook. (Days later he got the position and began working.) Source: Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor

Jim Ward and his girlfriend were awash in cash thanks to their regular trips down south, where they would buy thousands of prescription opioid pills from unscrupulous doctors and sell them back home in West Virginia for $220 apiece. But when they found out she was pregnant, they stopped all that.

The only problem was, the money stopped, too.

Mr. Ward lost the house he owned. He began sleeping at abandoned homes, and though he enrolled in some treatment programs, he was never able to stick with it – sometimes abusing the medication they gave him to get high again. He overdosed so many times he lost count. He and his girlfriend broke up.

“It’d gotten to the point where my mom didn’t want to have anything to do with me,” he says. Then one day in January his mother told him a few people had come looking for him.

They were from the Quick Response Team (QRT),

‘I was very proud’The making of a QRTA standard for the state – and maybe the nation

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