Date of Award


Degree Name

Healthcare Administration


College of Business

Type of Degree


Document Type

Research Paper

First Advisor

Alberto Coustasse


The opioid epidemic in West Virginia is a complex interplay of factors, including poverty, low education, and high unemployment rates, which contribute to higher rates of substance use and opioid-related deaths. The number of people injecting drugs has risen from 36% in 2005 to 54% in 2015. WV recorded 871 overdose deaths from all drugs in 2019 with 76.8% involving at least one opioid. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to investigate and analyze the circumstances that contributed to West Virginia's opioid epidemic to determine if sociocultural factors, such as lifestyle, education, and demographics, influenced the epidemic as well as outside factors like COVID-19. These strategies were evaluated through a systematic literature review and semi-structured interview that displayed a broad array of tactics used in West Virginia to keep up with the rate of related opioid overdoses. The methodological approach for the qualitative study included a literature review of various sources such as peer-reviewed articles, studies, articles, and other proposals related to the opioid epidemic. This research included 47 articles and ranged from 2010 through 2023. However, limitations were not neglected and included search strategy and database quantity. An interview with conducted with an expert to analyze the current state of the opioid epidemic in West Virginia and its future prevention. The working hypothesis was that poverty, limited access to education, low unemployment, and over-prescription of opioids contributed to the epidemic and that the epidemic increased with the presence of COVID-19. With this hypothesis in mind, West Virginia requires funding and program establishment to encourage the decline of opioid usage further. This paper provides a perspective on potential causes of the opioid epidemic to be addressed in future research to prevent opioid overdoses in the state of West Virginia and other surrounding areas that struggle with this issue.


Health services administration.

Health facilities -- Business management.

West Virginia.

Opioids -- Overdose.

Poverty -- West Virginia