- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has begun organizing regional meetings with clergy in a faith-based initiative to involve more churches in dealing with drug abuse.

Morrisey says the first regional session Tuesday in Parkersburg has 130 people coming, half of them pastors. Others are planned in Fairmont, Charleston and Huntington.

West Virginia has the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate, with 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. State health officials say overdose deaths rose nearly 18 percent last year, killing 864 people.

The goal is to provide churches with information about addiction treatment and services, especially in areas where they are lacking, and connect them with police, first responders and treatment groups.

Morrisey says similar efforts are helping in Ohio.

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