A new student group at West Virginia University hopes to educate their peers about fentanyl.
The new group, called Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force, was announced on Woodburn Circle at WVU’s Morgantown campus Wednesday afternoon.
The group’s mission is to inform classmates about the unique dangers of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, as well as existing resources for students on campus.
Task force chair, junior Azeem Khan, said as a West Virginian, he knows all too well the impacts of the opioid crisis.
“I didn’t want to wait 10 years to start doing my part to help,” Khan said. “I wanted to try and do something right now, as small as it is. If we can save one life, I think that’s worth it.”
Undergraduate leaders were joined by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District William Ihlenfeld.
Khan said it was a focus group on fentanyl facilitated by the U.S. Attorney’s office that opened his eyes to the serious issue of synthetic opioids.
“It motivated us to take that education that we receive, and try to find a way to share that with every single student on our campus,” he said.
WV GameChangers Executive Director Joe Boczek was also on-hand to lend his support to the task force.
“This will not be an overnight fix,” Boczek said. “This will be a time consuming fix, but it will be a fix because we will educate a generation of our kids just how bad these drugs are.”
WV GameChangers, and the larger national GameChangers network, work with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to build school environments which prevent student opioid and other drug use before it starts.
Although the Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force is not directly affiliated with the GameChangers program, Boczek said he is happy to support a student-led initiative, and hopes to see many more like it across the state.
“This is going to take tons of people from all walks of life, all professions, corporations, education, business, everything,” Boczek said. “This is a fight this country better take because if not, our communities are going to be decimated.”