Travis Zimmerman, assistant professor of criminal justice, will present the final lecture in the fall West Virginia Wesleyan College Faculty Lecture Series on Monday, December 11 at 7 p.m. in the Culpepper Auditorium of the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts (PAC). Zimmerman will present “White Lung: The Opioid Crisis in West Virginia.” The event is free and open to the public.
The lecture will focus on the increased prevalence of opiate overdoses in rural areas, specifically in Appalachia. A short history lesson on opiate development and infusion into the Appalachian Region will be discussed initially, followed by a discussion on the increased potency of opiates over the past decade. A discussion will follow about some statistical information on the trends in overdose death rates culminating in a short explanation of resources available to those impacted by opiate abuse.
“Roughly every ten minutes, someone dies of an opiate overdose in the United States,” stated Zimmerman. “In 2016, 818 people died in West Virginia as a result of overdose, where 269 died as a result of traffic accidents. We worry about our children driving safely when they are three times more likely to die of an overdose than in an auto accident.”
Assistant Professor Travis Zimmerman began working with addicted populations in 2007 at the Pruntytown Correctional Center in Grafton, WV as a Substance Abuse Unit Manager. Throughout his tenure there, he oversaw a 64-bed prison treatment unit which provided drug treatment to incarcerated offenders. He went on to co-develop and implement the Marion County Adult Drug Court in Fairmont’s 16th Judicial Circuit of the West Virginia Supreme Court. He ended field duty as the drug court’s probation officer in 2015, staying on part-time to counsel participants in the Marion County Adult Day Report Center with addiction issues.
His research is currently focused on factors that prohibit rural community corrections participants from program completion and recidivism. He is currently completing his dissertation at Walden University (PhD ABD) and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Administration of Justice respectively from Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA.