Fighting Addiction club hopes to change narrative of opioid epidemic


Alex Runyon

Members of the Fighting Addiction club participate in Marshall’s Unity Walk Monday.

Hunter Ellis, Reporter

Alex Runyon
Members of the Fighting Addiction club participate in Marshall’s Unity Walk Monday.

Fighting Addiction is a new club on campus looking for members interested in “changing the narrative” of the opioid epidemic affecting the community, according to club president and second year medical student Mouhammed Sakkal.

The goal of the club is currently to increase in size and bring together students to help make a difference in the community. The club has held their first formal meeting and participated in the Unity Walk Monday.

Sakkal said the club wants to approach the problem from an educational perspective, focusing on media outlook and advocating for laws and policies that could alleviate the situation. He said the organization will not solve the issue, an unrealistic goal for a student organization, but that he hopes they can be a part of the solution.

“I’m from Logan and I grew up in Charleston so I’ve been aware of this issue for a long time, especially being in the health field but I don’t think you need to be in healthcare to realize that this community is plagued with this epidemic” Sakkal said. “We want to change the narrative of what it means to be an addict and the stigma that comes along with it. It’s on us to help be a part of the solution, to not turn our back on our brothers and sisters in the community”

The club has an upcoming meeting with the Mayor’s Office for Drug Control Policy Monday to discuss what they can do as students to counter the issues. The group also plans to reach out to Recovery Point, a local addiction recovery center, as well as host philanthropy opportunities for students who want to get more involved.

Deena Dahshan and Paige Lester, senior biology majors, said they joined because the opioid problem is something that “really hits close to home” living in Huntington.

“Seeing these people, you can’t just ignore it and think it’s not your problem because you’re not personally affected,” Dahshan said. “Huntington has hope.”

Lester said she sees a lot of apathy towards the issue and believes if more people were willing to extend compassion to their community, everyone would be benefitted.

“The people here are very family oriented and welcoming and as part of the family we can help the rest get out of that darkness of addiction, or the battle that they’re fighting by supporting them.” Dahshan said. “This is the number one issue that’s affecting this community. I think it’s really important that students begin to get involved”

Students looking to help out with the organization can send an email to [email protected] and they will be added to a list to be informed when the next meeting will take place along with other information about the club.

Sakkal said his vision for the organization is to create something where students can get involved and be a part of the solution to an issue that’s not going to be solved overnight.

Fighting Addiction has students involved with the Student Government Association, a number of undergraduate programs and Marshall’s medical school. Although they have a diverse group of students, they are interested in opening their club to even more students from all different paths at Marshall, according to Sakkal

“Our main focus is to help the community, but of course it helps students involved,” Sakkal said. “You benefit more than what you think when you help others.”

Hunter Ellis can be contacted at [email protected]