CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The bishop of West Virginia's Episcopal Church is encouraging congregations to carry the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer made the request at the West Virginia Episcopal diocese's annual convention in Charleston last weekend.

Klusmeyer says naloxone should be available not only to members of the surrounding neighborhood who might overdose, but to church members who might have substance abuse problems.

Klusmeyer says he hates "seeing young people and old people die because of opioids and I hate seeing it destroy our communities and families."

West Virginia has the nation's highest death rate from drug overdoses. State health officials say overdose deaths rose nearly 18 percent last year, killing 864 people.

The Episcopal Church has more than 8,000 members in West Virginia.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.