BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It’s now easier to tell your doctor you don’t want opioid prescriptions. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) recently released its Voluntary Non-Opioid Directive Form as a new tool in the fight against opioid abuse. The idea is to keep more of the medications out of homes and off the streets.
Signing the pledge means you refuse the offer or administration of opioid medications, like oxycodone and morphine. Your doctor also signs the form to be released from responsibility for the consequences of your opioid refusal. The form then goes in your medical file.
“That form will help them to say, ‘Well, I really don’t want to have any of those opioids. I want to have something different, an opioid alternative,’ so that form will kind of be the leverage that they need to start that conversation with their physicians,” explained Dr. Janice Petersen, deputy assistant secretary for LDH.
You or the person authorized to act on your behalf can revoke the non-opioid directive for any reason at any time.
LDH also recently announced nearly $30 million in federal funds that will go directly to fighting the epidemic.
“Folks really need to have a place to go, so we're focusing a lot of the money on the treatment, making sure folks get into the agencies that provide those services, and providing those peer-support recovery services for folks who need to continue their recovery,” Petersen said.
The state is hosting a public opioid forum Friday, October 5. Five community-based panels will include members of the public and experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Capital Area Human Services District.
The forum runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tracy Center, located at 1800 S Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge.
For people like Kourtney Smith, the epidemic is personal. Her brother, Rick Dencausse, died of a heroin overdose in Gonzales in 2017.
“I'm not ashamed to say that my brother passed away from an overdose, because people need to know that it's a problem,” Smith said.
She now uses his story to spread awareness and hopefully save others.
“Love your loved ones while you have them,” Smith said. "Sometimes they just need to know that they’re loved. And to the ones that lost, know that you’re not alone.”