"They're not just doing the methadone," he said. "They're taking the methadone with about 10 Xanax on top of it, and it's a real good buzz. And if you ask any of these people who are hooked on this stuff, they'll tell you it's better than OxyContin."
Riffe and Barlow specifically mentioned Xanax as a problem in the area. Other drugs also use the active ingredient in OxyContin, called oxycodone. Pain relievers Roxicodone - better known as "Roxies," Barlow said - and Percocet are just as prevalent and problematic.
Effect of abuse
A doctor in the film states half the babies born at Raleigh General Hospital need methadone to be treated for addiction.
Ellen King, executive director for women's and children's services at Raleigh General, said the actual figures are not that bad but still are "appalling."
From January to March more than 300 babies were born at the hospital. Of those, 46 were tested for addiction, King said. Of the 46, five tested positive for methadone and more than a quarter were addicted to oxycodone.
The national average for oxycodone addiction is 5.6 percent of babies tested, she said. Other West Virginia hospitals that use the same testing company average 18.6 percent.
Babies are tested when the mother says she has taken drugs, hospital personnel suspect she has done so or the baby is showing signs of withdrawal, King said. The hospital sends a bit of the umbilical cord to be tested.
The testing is to detect illicit drugs, but King said many babies also are born addicted to nicotine or caffeine.
There is nothing like watching a baby go through withdrawal, she said.
"They're fussing babies; they're not very lovable. A baby that's going through withdrawal isn't very lovable. They're stiff, they're board-like; they can't be soothed. They're physically hard.
"They're just not warm, cuddly babies."
That can lead to abuse: sometimes parents can't cope with the constant crying, King said.
Withdrawal from some drugs, like Subutex - a drug similar to Suboxone and methadone - takes longer to show up than most hospital stays, King said.
Facilities have been developed to help these families. The Turning Point, which opened recently in Beckley, provides services for expectant mothers with substance abuse problems. In Huntington, Lily's Place helps children born with addiction.
Raleigh General tries to help, too.
"I'd like to believe that we can help them while they're here," King said. "We try to educate our moms. We try to provide a positive bonding experience while they're here."
Turning the corner
Former coal miner Steve Childers knows all about Percocet. Walking toward the door of Stephen Anderson's ATV shop in Oceana, he lifted the back of his shirt to reveal a large scar along his spine. A 2006 mine accident left Childers with back surgery and pain.
It's a common story in the area, Childers said. For many, it's the precursor to addiction. Childers said he has seen buddies "get into the suck."
"I almost went down that road," Childers said. He added later, "You've got to say no when you get over (the pain)."
Childers doesn't have a job. Some mines and other companies in Southern West Virginia complain about a lack of people able to pass a drug test. Childers said he would take a drug test then and there, but no one wants to hire a 46-year-old ex-coal miner with a back problem.
He looks after the house and receives disability while his wife works as a nurse at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
"Stay positive," Childers said. "It's all you can do."
That's a tall order for some. The people in the trailer for Dunne's documentary say there's no hope left in Oceana. The trailer ends with a man's solemn voice proclaiming the town wouldn't be around if it wasn't for drugs.
Those interviewed in the town think someone taking drugs all day might be hopeless. But they believe the average resident is optimistic for the future.
While no one could offer all the solutions, they said it would take awareness and teamwork, a trusting community buying in to a common cause.
Town leaders seem confident they can destroy the notion of "Oxyana."
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