"It has to start with grade-school kids. There has not been a negative or dirty stigma with prescription drugs because it's in all of our families," he said. "Until we get that ingrained and educated into our kids ... we need to focus on the education of our youngsters."
Other speakers urged expanding training for health professionals and creating long-term care facilities with thousands of beds for drug addicts. They also urged continued federal funding for the cleanup of illegal methamphetamine operations, expanding access to the powerful drug naloxone that can stop the effects of drug overdoses, and using cost-effective treatments for drug-addicted infants.
Among those attending the seminars in Charleston and Huntington were U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, both D-W.Va., and White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Kerlikowske attended a similar meeting in Charleston in February 2011.
"Four years ago, the prescription drug issue wasn't really on the radar screen," he said. "I think the example of the progress that I see is this opportunity to come to West Virginia and see collaborations, partnerships and the leveraging of resources in a way that I think is unique. I think other states could take something away from this type of collaboration as they deal with this."