West Virginia Addicted: How to get people to pay attention to the opioid crisis

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - It's a problem that experts feel hasn't even peaked yet, fearing it could get worse.

As one former addict told 5 News last week, there needs to be more community awareness of the issue.

So, how are experts and community groups trying to get people to pay attention?

"Stories are so powerful," said Dr. Daniel Shook with the Greater Morgantown Safe Communities Initiative. "Many organizations have strategies of trying to engage people to just have you listen to the stories."

Part of it is changing the mindset that people facing this disease aren't bad people.

"These are not people that have this disorder that want to necessarily be there," Shook said. "We treat them like they're diseased. They do have a disease, but they're people just like you and I."

Shook says a way to get people to pay attention is to encourage them to just take a deep breath and think. They need to make time to think about the problem and what they can do to help.

"We need to take time to listen," Shook said. "Some people will refer to that as mindfulness but we need to take a breath, relax, and listen to each other and try to educate each other about what's happening."

Frank Jarman with the Marion County Family Resource Network has played a major role in encouraging others to take action. He and some of his colleagues have gone door to door and held conversations about the epidemic.

"We're going to try and educate and let them know that there's a hundred other things you can do than to take a pill for that pain," Jarman said.

All in all, they want people to at least take the time to listen and just consider a way they can help.