CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Authors presenting at the Virginia Festival of the Book are tackling topics related to addiction this year.

The five-day festival of reading kicked off on Wednesday, March 20, and some writers are making sure people leave events with feelings of hope.

The Jefferson School's African-American Heritage Center hosted two authors who once worked as journalists on Wednesday afternoon.

Both spoke about their work surrounding the opioid epidemic.

“Well, the book came out of my reporting for The Guardian when I was reporting from marginalized and poorer communities several years ago,” Chris McGreal, one of the authors, said.

That reporting evolved into “American Overdose.” In his book, McGreal questions how the opioid epidemic started and subsequently grew for 20 years.

He and Beth Macy, author of “Dopesick,” spoke about their work during the first day of the festival.

“I'm really interested in the way it has grown to interact more with the community,” Macy said. “For instance, I just saw somebody that works for Region Ten - the community service board - and they have recently opened up a center here in Charlottesville for women and children, women with opioid use disorder.”

The talk focused on the more than 72,000 people who died as a result of an overdose last year.

“I get into the hope and the people that actually fought to put this on the agenda, to make people talk about it, and you'd be surprised who they are,” McGreal said. “They're everything from small town doctors to people who've lost their children who didn’t even know there was an epidemic until one of their children died.”

Now, these authors are focused on the future.

“As one activist in my book says, the answer is always community,” Macy said. “And the number one problem with turning back the opioid crisis is there’s still so much stigma around it, and when I see a full house like this for Chris McGreal and for my book, I just think this is the community coming together to deal with one of our most persistent problems that we have and it’s fantastic.”

More discussions and events are scheduled to take place as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book through Sunday, March 24.

Click here to watch the full discussion on the opioid epidemic.