Date of Award


Degree Name

Healthcare Administration


College of Business

Type of Degree


Document Type

Research Paper

First Advisor

Dr. Alberto Coustasse


Introduction: Harm reduction has been a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. It has been defined as a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. The U.S. has been experiencing an opioid/heroin epidemic, with significant increases in overdose death among drug users with more than 72,000 Americans having died from drug overdoses in 2017.

Methodology: The methodology for this study was a literature review with a semi structured interview with Tina Rameriz of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in Charleston, West Virginia. The electronic databases used included EBSCOhost, PubMed, Academic Search Premier, ProQuest, and Google Scholar. Government and medical websites were also used. A total of 47 sources were referenced.

Results: The results of the literature review showed that West Virginia had the highest age-adjusted rate of drug related overdose deaths in the nation in 2014. Overdoses claimed more than three out of every 100 fatalities and ranked #1 in drug overdose deaths with a rate of 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. West Virginia had a statewide Harm Reduction Coalition that provided support and guidance for any agency interested. States such as Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio have had better results in implementing harm reduction programs. An opportunity of harm reduction programs was the creation of the drug Naloxone.

Discussion/Conclusion: This research was not without its limitations. The review suggested that West Virginia has been in fact, behind other states in the U.S. By utilizing several harm reduction programs in the state of West Virginia, this would also create a substantial decrease in the number of HIV and Hepatitis virus spread through needle sharing among injection drug users.


Health services administration.

Harm reduction -- West Virginia.

Needle exchange programs -- West Virginia.