A Decade After Millions of Opioid Pills Hit Kermit, W.Va., Can the Town Rebound?

Kermit residents Michael Duty, Sister Therese Carew and Etta Lea Blankenship-Kiser share their stories about the long road to recovery for individuals and the small West Virginia town they love. Photo: Trey Kay/WVPB

At the peak of the opioid crisis, drug companies sent 12 million hydrocodone pills to Kermit, West Virginia, a town of about 350 people. Cars would line up at the one pharmacy with people waiting to pick up pain pills. The so-called pain clinics of a decade ago are gone. In their place, a continued need for addiction treatment and recovery resources.

Lawsuits against big pharmaceutical companies continue to bring in settlements, but so far Kermit hasn’t seen any money from the litigation. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them podcast heads to Mingo County to see how the community is healing and what the future might look like.

Debbie Preece of Kermit, W.Va., lost two brothers to the opioid epidemic. Listen to her story and others in the Us & Them podcast episode below. Photo: Trey Kay/WVPB

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Humanities Council. Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond. You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio — tune in on the fourth Thursday of every month at 8 p.m., with an encore presentation on the fourth Saturday at 3 p.m.

This piece was originally published by West Virginia Public Broadcasting.