Opioid memorial comes to Washington, drawing support from the White House

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Every 24 minutes, an American dies of an overdose caused by prescription painkillers. Now, the Trump administration and a national public safety group are bringing to life the thousands lost each year to this crisis.

Our Washington Correspondent Alana Austin has a sneak peak of the new memorial unveiled near the White House.

“He was an amazing guy," said Missy Owen, advocate and co-founder of Atlanta-based Davis Direction Foundation.

Owen’s son, Davis, was senior class president, an honor’s student, active volunteer, and athlete. But a year and a half after graduation, he was gone.

“He was one of those kids who was so bright that his brain never cut off...in his case he was self-medicating in order to sleep and that’s how his addiction began," explained Owen.

That loss began a new chapter: Owen launched the Davis Direction Foundation, a resource for those in recovery.

She’s sharing her story at this traveling memorial that’s come to Washington.

The exhibit's wall features 22,000 pills with carved faces - one pill for each American life lost to prescription drugs in 2015.

The exhibit - called 'Prescribed to Death' - is on display next to the White House.

It opens here to the public Thursday, thanks to the National Safety Council and the support of the Trump administration.

“We’re here to make sure that we don’t increase the size and scope of memorials like this," said Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to President Donald Trump.

The President tapped senior White House official, Kellyanne Conway, to lead the fight against opioids.

She says progress is being made, including $6-billion-dollars in federal funds to help solve the drug epidemic.

But Conway says change can’t happen overnight, even with a directive from the President.

“He’s really issued a call of action to the whole country - those who are suffering in silence to come forward and break the stigma and those who feel like they know somebody to say something and to do something," said Conway.

Leaders here also encouraging folks to participate in the upcoming national drug takeback day on April 28th. You can turn over your unused or expired drugs that might be hanging out in the medicine cabinet.

The exhibit in Washington is open to visitors until April 18th. It will eventually make its way to Ohio.

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