Public meeting held on opioid epidemic

Public meeting held on opioid epidemic
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Friday, Mar. 22 residents got an eye-opening look at what some in Baton Rouge are doing to help protect people’s loved ones from the opioid epidemic.

Experts from the area talked about where they are with the action plan announced in December of 2018, saying the threat in 2019 is coming from the powerful drug, fentanyl. Officials have used grant money to expand treatment and prevention programs. They also talked about what people can do at home to help in the fight.

Public meeting held to address local opioid epidemic

“It’s important we all understand that all of us are responsible for responding to this. One of the most important things anyone and all of us can do is really look inside the medicine cabinet," said Dr. Jan Kasofsky, executive director of Capital Area Human Services (CAHS).

Old prescriptions can be dropped off at local police stations and at some pharmacies.

“Our biggest fear is that we would do all of this work with all of the community members and then the plan would just sit on the shelf, so now we know that people are actually mobilizing and actually implementing the plan,” said Dr. Janzlean Laughinghouse, CAHS director of addiction services.

Some of the topics discussed included new opioid data from the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, faith-based community work, prescribing practices, street outreach, NARCAN distribution, training for physicians in pain management, and expansion of treatment and access in the region.

“We are seeing more people being driven toward treatment,” Laughinghouse said. “Awareness is being raised. We can’t begin to deal with the problem unless we face it, and we can face it by increasing that awareness.”

Another meeting geared toward the faith-based community will happen Tuesday, Mar. 26 at 9 a.m. Ministers, clergy, and other faith-based leaders are invited to learn about the opioid crisis and ways to help their congregations get services. That meeting will also be in room 200 at CAHS on Government Street.

If you or someone you know has a problem with opioids (heroin or prescription pain medications), there is help available. CAHS provides screening, assessment, and referral to detox and medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid dependence. CAHS also provides a Vivitrol maintenance program, which includes medication and therapy as effective tools for preventing relapse in individuals who have stopped abusing opioids. Call 225-925-1906 or click here for more information.

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