West Virginia is experiencing a high number of drug-related deaths. The state-funded program that offers assistance to those in need of burial assistance has seen a sharp rise in submitted claims. According to the agency, they are unable to provide much financial assistance because of the high increase of claims submitted within the past five years.The unexpected increase has exceeded the money the agency receives each year from the federal government.

Officials have stated that the funds earmarked to provide monetary assistance for 12 months are gone within the first four months of the year.

The State's Department of Health (DHHR) had reported that funeral directors are blaming the high amount of deaths on the nation's drug problem.

State struggles with drug epidemic

West Virginia is the worst affected state with the drug-related death epidemic quickly spreading throughout its region. Yearly budgeted funeral assistance is $2 million dollars most of which is already used up elderly baby boomers. The allotted amount per household is only $1250 to cover the cost of one funeral, therefore, the influx of higher than normal drug-related deaths have made it impossible for the center to assist those who are unable to find money for funeral expenses.

The spokesperson for the DHHR, Allison Adler reported that for the fiscal year that will end on June 30, there were 1,508 burials claims already submitted through the low-income burial program leaving just enough to cover an additional 63 funerals.

However, with this new epidemic sweeping the state the remaining funds will be depleted long before the end of its budgeted fiscal year. According to Adler, the state-sponsored program was implemented several decades ago, but since 2013 and 2014, the funds were depleted by June.

W. Virginia has almost 50% of nation's drug overdose deaths

In 2015, the year with the most funeral expense claims, the money was completely wiped- out by March of that year. A survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that West Virginia's death rate from drug overdose stood at 41.5 cases per every 100,000 residents.

This is the highest rate in the U.S.A., it is almost three times the country's national average. The survey also stated that In 1999, West Virginia's fatality rate from drug overdoses was far below the national average.

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