CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More addicts are turning to heroin when prescription pills become too expensive or too hard to find, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Wednesday night.
That has lead to a surge in heroin abuse that some fear might become a full-blown epidemic.
On Wednesday night, Goodwin brought together a panel of medical professionals, law enforcement officers and state legislators at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse to address the rising heroin problem.
The 13-person panel provided each other with information about effective heroin addiction treatments and strategies. They largely agreed that education and treatment are the most effective ways to deal with the problem.
West Virginia has an opportunity to lead education and treatment efforts before heroin abuse becomes too widespread to control, Goodwin said.
"There is a great need here," he said.
Goodwin began noticing an increase in heroin abuse after spending many years going after the prescription pill trade. More people turned to heroin as prescription pills cleared off the streets, he said.
One of the largest downfalls of heroin abuse is an increased risk of overdoses, said Gordon Merry, director of Cabell County Emergency Medical Services.
Heroin is often made with varying forms of potency and makeup, which increases risk of overdose and death, he said.