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New initiatives launched to save lives as overdose deaths continue to rise in EBR Parish

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:21 AM CST
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published February 8, 2021 at 4:08 PM CST - Updated February 25 at 3:24 PM on wafb.com)

BATON ROUGE, La. (Great Health Divide) - East Baton Rouge Parish is on track to surpass a record of fatal overdoses set last year.

According to Coroner Beau Clark, 22 overdose deaths have already confirmed with nearly 20 more awaiting toxicology reports meaning that number could be far higher. Last year, 245 people died from fatal accidental overdoses, nearly doubling the record set in 2019.

“This does not discriminate, doesn’t care what color you are, if you’re from the curbside to the country club. It doesn’t discriminate,” said Tonja Myles, an advocate for helping users recover from their addictions.

RELATED: Drug overdose deaths rise during pandemic

To combat the rising number of overdoses, Myles teamed up with BRPD, Clark, the District Attorney’s Office, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome to announce three initiatives Myles said will save lives.

Starting by the end of February, BRPD officers will have cards with information on how to start the process of breaking addiction. It will include resources like sober living facilities and a number to help get a free ride once an individual has signed up for a rehabilitation facility. Starting Saturday, Feb. 27th Myles will be holding Sober Saturdays, an event to help users find resources on rehab, Narcan, and other information on starting the process of recovery.

The first will be held near the corner of Plank and Mohican St.

“The goal is to save lives,” Myles said. We have too many people that are dying because of opioid abuse and we can do something about it and that’s why we’re boots on the ground and bring the resources to the people, and again, being able to get them the treatment they need is a big game changer.”

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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