CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The governor of West Virginia says the state has developed a plan that adheres to federal guidelines for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday that starting in January, doctors who prescribe pain pills will be required to follow recent prescribing guidelines developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local news organizations reported.

The CDC recommends that opioids should not be considered a first-choice treatment and that patients should be educated about and agree to all treatment decisions regarding chronic pain. It also recommends that providers should take measures to prevent abuse and consider potential opioid abuse when pursuing treatment.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling said the state is implementing the guidelines to reduce opioid overuse and abuse.

“With more than 600 opiate-related overdose deaths in West Virginia last year, we must continue making every positive change we can to break the cycle of addiction,” Gov. Tomblin said.

The DHHR will begin educating providers about the guidelines later this month.