West Virginia mayor: Opioid crisis is 'eroding the foundation' of the US

Huntington, W.Va., Mayor Steve Williams (D) stressed the urgency surrounding the nationwide opioid crisis in an interview that aired on Thursday, saying it is "eroding the foundation" of the U.S. 

"We have to have a strong program to be able to place people into treatment so that we can heal. This is the greatest single health — existential health crisis in the nation," Williams told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising." 

"As much as we're concerned about terrorism, this is eroding the foundation of our nation. We've lost two generations, and God forbid, if we don't get this fixed, we're going to continue to lose our families, and lose our children," he continued. 
 
Huntington has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, with 40 million pills being distributed from 2007 to 2012 to the county surrounding the city, even though Cabell County has a population of only 96,000 people.  
 
Williams said there are only roughly 100 treatment beds in the county, and there were 100 overdoses in the county this month. 
 
"That's a major, major problem," the mayor said. "If somebody comes in and says 'I want treatment,' they shouldn't have to wait six months, six weeks or six days. Within six hours, we should be able to place them. That's an issue in West Virginia and in every state in the country."  
 
Williams has received praise for his work aiming to improve the response to drug overdoses, which he said are down in the area by 41 percent. 
 
"We're not about to say we're waving the mission accomplished flag by any means, but we're pleased that we're seeing there is a trend in this direction, and it's something that is an affirmation that we are doing all of the right things," Williams said. 
 

— Julia Manchester