Wheeling Jesuit to Hold Discussion on Combating Opioid Crisis

Panelists from Wheeling Jesuit University and the community will address how to help those suffering from drug addiction during a panel discussion, hosted at the university, this month.

Alumni, faculty and a student from WJU, along with a reporter from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, will take part in a panel discussion, “Hope in Action: Responses to the Opioid Crisis” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, in Wheeling Jesuit’s Mount de Chantal Recital Hall inside the Center for Educational Technologies building.

“The daunting statistics on overdose deaths, each of which is a person with a family, can be overwhelming. The crisis is complex. It requires our best thinking, courageous and consistent action, and the involvement of people of various skills and experiences, temperaments and networks. In short, it requires all of us. I am grateful for the many members of our WJU community working to help those affected by this crisis through advocacy, treatment, education and accompaniment,” said Jamey Brogan, director of Campus Ministry and Mission and Identity at WJU.

The moderator for the evening is Dr. Jessica Wrobleski, WJU assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies. She will offer context on how the opioid crisis is impacting Appalachia, and the ethical considerations drawn from Catholic social thought.

“The human costs of opiate abuse and addiction in our region cannot be ignored, particularly by a Catholic, Jesuit university with a mission of serving the people of Appalachia. As such an institution, Wheeling Jesuit University can not only help to disseminate information about the crisis, but also provide opportunities like this panel, for networking and building solidarity among those who have been touched by this deadly epidemic,” Wrobleski noted.

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Brogan added, “We will ask our panelists what is being done, what members of society are not being served, and what are the long-term needs to respond to this crisis. Also, the panelists will share how they were called to respond to this epidemic, and what sustains them in this difficult work, which rarely yields quick results.”

Serving on the panel are:

• Dr. Ryan Wakim, WJU alumnus, psychiatrist and co-founder Recovery-Based Outpatient Opioid Treatment Services (R.O.O.T.S.) located in West Virginia. He will address current and future treatment options locally and nationally, efficacy of medical services, and integration of services with the community

• Dr. Maryanne Capp, WJU alumna and chair of Nursing and Health Science at Wheeling Jesuit. She will discuss homeless outreach and post-treatment needs for those recovering from addiction.

• Dr. Carrie Abraham, WJU alumna and clinical associate professor of Physical Therapy at Wheeling Jesuit. Abraham will talk about effective pain management, including better alternatives to opioids. She was awarded a grant from the American Physical Therapy Association to design a community awareness video to outline the benefits of physical therapy as an alternative to pharmaceuticals for chronic pain management.

• Ian Robinson, WJU student, veteran and in recovery. In addition to sharing insights from his own experience of recovery, Robinson will discuss advocacy for vets and addicts, and the importance of local recovery centers.

• Brent Hurley, WJU alumnus and employee of Lee Day Report Center. He will offer insights about recovery through the court system.

• Taylor Stuck, reporter with the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Stuck will discuss Huntington as a case-study on opioid addiction and the needle exchange program in that city.