CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The drug epidemic remains one of the worst problems in West Virginia and the Appalachian region. Dozens of people came together Monday, Sept. 18 in a virtual statewide town hall meeting looking for answers.

One of the biggest problems in the opioid crisis is the harm that it’s causing to the youngest populations. Statistics show 835 people from ages 20 thru 29 died from overdoses last year.

Reports say 61 people from the age group 19 and under died from overdoses last year, and 21% of West Virginia middle and high school students say they were offered drugs on campus.

The experts agreed that more needs to be done to help young people.

“Moving stigma and prevention messaging to elementary rather than middle and high school, because the messaging is not hitting them young enough. Because by the time they’re in middle school sometimes people are already using,” said Bradley McCoy, with the West Virginia Substance Use Response Plan.

The response plan members also recommended expanded access to Narcan in all schools.

Right now, most school nurses are trained to use to over-dose reversal medicine, but committee members want that training expanded to all teachers, coaches, bus drivers and other school personnel.