President Barack Obama is announcing steps Wednesday aimed at reducing deaths from narcotic drug overdoses, the New York Times reported. The proposals, which are expected to mandate more training for doctors and require federal health insurance plans to cover addiction treatment, are to be announced at a forum in West Virginia, a state plagued with drug overdose deaths. 

Addiction to prescription painkillers has especially affected the state, and the nation as a whole, with more than 20,000 people dying from prescription drug abuse in the U.S. every year. Obama's initiative aims to reduce that figure and will reportedly offer training to more than half a million healthcare providers.

“Since the start of this administration and the president’s inaugural drug strategy, we identified prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse as crucial problems,” a senior White House official told the Times Tuesday, under condition of anonymity since Obama had not yet announced the plan.

The new steps from the Obama administration follow prior efforts to slow a growing epidemic. The president tightened rules last year regarding the prescribing of hydrocodone, the most commonly prescribed painkiller that is found in drugs like Vicodin. But the new rules from the Obama administration will likely have a limited effect, since states regulate the practice of medicine and just 10 of them require doctors to get specialized training for prescribing opioids.

West Virginia, amid an epidemic of overdose deaths, is one such state. From 2011 through 2013, West Virginians suffered fatal ODs at a rate of 33.5 per 100,000 people, the worst rate in the country, according to data from Vocativ. Using the same data and time period, the states with the 10 highest rates of drug overdose deaths were West Virginia, Kentucky (24.6 out of 100,000), New Mexico (24.6), Nevada (21.6), Utah (21.5), Oklahoma (20), Rhode Island (19.4), Ohio (19.2), Pennsylvania (18.9) and Arizona (17.8). North Dakota had the fewest overdose fatalities per 100,000 people at 2.6.

The epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse has grown so large that it is now the nation's leading cause of death by injury, the Times reported. Forty-four people die daily from overdosing on painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency reports that drug poisoning deaths rose 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 and heroin deaths by nearly 40 percent.

“The data announced today underscore that the nation’s drug problem is evolving, and requires a comprehensive solution," said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, at the time of the release of the 2013 data. 

The uptick in the use of heroin has been tied to the increase in painkiller abuse. As drugs like Oxycontin have become more expensive and harder to acquire, people turn to cheaper (and illegal) heroin to avoid withdrawal. Nearly half of heroin users were addicted to legal painkillers, the Times reported.