Audience members packed into an auditorium on West Virginia University's medical campus Monday to listen a roundtable on opioid abuse held by WVU and Senator Joe Manchin.
The roundtable, moderated by WVU School of Medicine executive dean Clay Marsh, featured WVU researchers and medical staff in addition to students. The panelists discussed treatment, prevention, research and stigma associated with opioid addiction.
"You have parents come to me, 'Please, can you convict our son of a crime, or our daughter of a crime? Because if you convict them I can get them into drug court,'" Manchin said. "That's the only treatment center we have. You're speaking of the greatest country on Earth - that we can't take care of illiness of epidemic proportions - something is wrong."
One panelist - Mark Garofoli, an assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy at WVU - asked Manchin to emphasize prevention in his work in the Senate in addition to treatment.
"I heard once that education is the best analgesic. Yes. Senator, when you're on the floor once a week, you talk about specific addiction stories hopefully within our state," Garofoli said. "I would urge you to also talk about the prevention side. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of treatment and when it comes to substance abuse, you need both."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 people die everyday in the United States from opioid abuse. West Virginia has the highest rate of drug-overdose deaths in the country.