- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will spend $500,000 on a program that aims to curb prescription drug and heroin abuse across the state.

DEA special Agent Karl Colder tells the Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/2kO4gC8) the project, announced Wednesday, targets drug traffickers who supply opioids to Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties.

Colder says West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic - on one day in August, 26 people in Huntington overdosed on heroin during a five-hour span.

The DEA also wants to reduce the diversion of prescription drugs by having discussions with doctors, pharmacists, drug wholesalers and manufacturers. Furthermore, the agency plans to raise awareness in the area about the dangers of opioids.

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