It's been reported that 4,000 people have died over the last year due to drug overdoses. That's more than have died of terrorism in the last 20 years. 

In an effort to turn the tables on the opioid epidemic, 21 News is partnering with other media outlets to try and change the conversation and find solutions to the drug crisis.

To do that,  we're talking and listening to people in the community. Our first meeting was Sunday night in Youngstown at the Boys and Girls Club and it served as a powerful reminder of the scope and magnitude this epidemic is having on our community. 

"We can't wait for the government to solve problems," said Doug Oplinger, former editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Groups of four or five people from different backgrounds including journalists from 21 WFMJ, The Vindicator, The Tribune-Chronicle gathered to talk and listen.

"I lost a son to this and I wasn't much involved in it when he was in this. I learned more after he died and I think if I would have known then what I know now he might not have died," said Don LoGiudice with Ohio CAN.

We met people who have lost loved ones to addiction, some who have recently recovered and even those working on the front lines as recovery experts. 

"We want to talk about recovery and that it does happen and it's a wonderful beautiful thing and it can be achieved," said Hope Lovrinoff-Moran with Ohio CAN.

The conversations were emotional and invoked some passionate responses. A common theme among the groups was the ease of access to opiates, the stigma, and what it's doing to our communities.

"When you lose 50,000-60,000 people a year, which is equal to the whole Vietnam War, it's ridiculous. I mean we're losing generations of people. What, whose to say, these young people that are dying today could have brought us in the future," said LoGuidice.

"As a society, this community has to embrace these people instead of being venomous and hateful toward them and if you could just wrap your head around the idea that this is truly a brain disease and you wouldn't do this to somebody with heart disease or diabetes. Let's embrace them and help them," said Lovrinoff-Moran.

About an hour after the conversations started, the journalists gathered to strategize solution based reporting going forward while some of the participants left with optimism.

"The reason I'm the optimist is because I have been there. I have been at the bottom, I've been down, I've been out and I got raised up," said Michael Write with Life Walk Solutions.

More community talk-back sessions were being held in Warren and Struthers. 

Stay with 21 News as we continue to report on solution based stories in fighting the opioid epidemic.