CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Dr. Susan Bissett is the President of the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute, a non-profit dedicated to reducing drug deaths.

“I immediately read the job description and said ‘this is me’ this is the job that I want.”

Dr. Susan Bissett, President of the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute

But her journey to get to that role is what truly makes her remarkable. Bissett has spent numerous years working in student affairs in various colleges where she witnessed the harsh realities of the opioid epidemic.

“I watched them put my student, my very bright student, straight A student in a body bag. And it changed way I thought about the whole opioid epidemic. It really impacted me,” said Bissett.

Her experiences impacted her to make a difference, and she knew it couldn’t be done just one way.

“I think Susan understands that there’s not just a single approach. So she is trying to target education for kids, education for parents, and then real on the ground work with naloxone and actual people who have a substance abuse problem,” said Lynne Fruth, the CEO of Fruth Pharmacy.

Thanks to Bissett, at all Fruth Pharmacy locations throughout West Virginia, you can pick up a medication disposal bag that safely disposes unused or expired medication. Which also incorporates the face of the institute – Rex the Rx. the purpose of Rex is to ‘not keep Rex around.” And it’s a message Bissett has spread to thousands of school children in West Virginia.

“We’ve been in elementary schools across the state ever since. And so when I took this job, Rex came with us. As one of our signature programs and has really become the ambassador for the institute,” said Bissett.

Bissett and the WVDII made a huge push to get the first ever naloxe-boxes on college campus‘ throughout the state. They also offer naloxone training to anyone who would like to be prepared to help in the event of an overdose.

“So just increasing the access to this life-saving overdose reversal drug. From the pharmacy to the college campus really,” said Bissett.

Joe Murphy the CEO of Murphy Media and the creative mind behind Rex, says the reason he got involved in combating the crisis is because of Bissett’s compassion.

“I’ve seen her cry with mothers who have lost their children, I’ve seen her talk about success with men and women who have come through recovery. I’ve seen her teach and educate young children and will hopefully never see them on the other side of this problem,” said Murphy.

Bissett has found numerous ways to help combat a problem that has ravished and torn apart families in West Virginia. But perhaps what truly makes her remarkable, is how she knows her work isn’t done, and she’ll continue to work until no more lives are lost to opioid epidemic.

“I’d like to work myself out of a job. I’d like to say 10 – 20 years from now there is no opioid epidemic. I’m moving on to the next problem we need to solve.”

Dr. Susan Bissett