Town Hall meeting to address growing opioid abuse problem

Town Hall meeting to address growing opioid abuse problem

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Opioid abuse is responsible for dozens of deaths every year in East Baton Rouge Parish. One local organization is hosting a Town Hall event to address the ongoing issue.

"We recognize that opioid abuse has had a devastating toll on many of the communities that we serve, so we want to ensure people are aware of the pervasiveness of this issue and understand the critical prevention and treatment resources that are available," said Dr. Jan Kasofsky, executive director of Capital Area Human Services. "This town hall meeting is an opportunity to involve the entire community in our efforts to improve the health and well-being of people across the parishes we serve."

The Town Hall event will take place on Thursday, April 6 at the BREC Administrative Center, 6201 Florida Blvd. The event is free and open to the public and it will begin at 6 p.m..

The meeting will begin with a screening of "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict," which is a documentary produced by the DEA of the FBI. It is aimed at educating young people and the public about the dangers of addiction.

"The film content has been provided by actual people who abused opiates or whose children abused opiates," states a press release. "They selflessly share their unfiltered, impassioned, unscripted, and painful accounts to try to stop other people from taking drugs and destroying lives."

Opiate abuse has been an issue nationwide, responsible for more than 33,00 deaths in 2015. In Louisiana, the number of deaths doubled between 2014 and 2015. In East Baton Rouge Parish, 35 people died in 2016 directly due to a fatal dose of heroin. As of March 28, 2017, there have been 13 deaths caused by heroin.

"There has been a significant rise in opioid related deaths in East Baton Rouge Parish in the last few years. This trend is alarming and community efforts must be made to help addicted individuals so that we may avoid these preventable deaths," said Dr. Beau Clark, EBR Parish Coroner.

During this meeting, panelists will highlight the current opioid abuse issues, outline factors that have contributed to the epidemic, and explain effective prevention and treatment strategies. Meeting participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the next steps in a local response to opioid abuse prevention and treatment efforts.

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