Writer Speaks to Marshall Students About Opiate Epidemic

Sam Quinones

Just a week before President Barack Obama is due in Charleston to discuss the states, problem with substance abuse, author and journalist Sam Quinones was in Huntington Thursday speaking to Marshall students about the opiate epidemic. 

Quinones told students: there is no simple solution to the drug problems cities like Huntington face. 

Sam Quinones


“There are no sexy, silver bullet things, you have to do a bunch of things, all of which the public needs to support and understand first,” Quinones said.

“I think it’s time to kind of reformulate what jail is and putting real rehab clinics in jail, not just a 12-step meeting every Wednesday, but from 6 in the morning to 9 at night you’re working on your rehab.”

 Quinones said even though steps have been taken to mitigate the prescription pain killer epidemic, pain pills are still the root cause. But when patients become addicted and can no longer obtain the pills, they often turn to the heroin and will continue to do so. He said big pharmaceutical companies aren’t being held accountable.

“This is a classic example where the private sector created a problem, profits accrue to the private sector, most if not all the costs are covered and endured by the public sector,” Quinones said.

Quinones is a veteran reporter who worked in Mexico for 10 years covering immigration, gangs and drug trafficking before working for 10 years at the Los Angeles Times.