State establishes ‘opioid response’ plan

Published 3:28 am Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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On Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Health released Louisiana’s Opioid Response Plan, the first of its kind for the state. The plan aims to successfully reduce Louisiana’s opioid epidemic by implementing strategies to address the under-reporting of opioid deaths, enhance monitoring of opioid prescriptions and increase access to treatment services.

Louisiana saw more than 450 opioid-related deaths in 2018, which points to the need for coordinated and comprehensive action.

“While we continue taking a number of positive steps forward in the battle against opioid addiction in Louisiana, we still have much work to do,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “As a result of more comprehensive data collection, we are better able to understand the challenges of those suffering from this addiction and develop a new, innovative and coordinated state response efforts. Our people are Louisiana’s most valuable resource and the opioid response plan outlines the steps we will take to ensure that we increase access to the best standards of care and treatment.”

Louisiana has seen a rapid escalation in the opioid prescription rate and the drug overdose rate, prompting the Department to collaborate with partners on the Opioid Response Plan. The Department of Health, through its organizational makeup, is in a unique position to address the opioid epidemic from multiple angles, all under the purview of a single state agency, but with acute awareness of the need to collaborate across agency lines and systems and branches of government.

Louisiana’s Opioid Response Plan describes in detail the initiatives, campaigns and strategic activities currently underway to reduce opioid abuse in Louisiana, as well as those planned, along with the laws, regulations, policies and guidelines that support and define this mission. The plan also incorporates feedback from expert recommendations and public comments.

“This ambitious plan takes aim at a devastating public health epidemic that touches every corner of our communities, destroys lives and tears families apart,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Department of Health. “Through this plan, the Department of Health is committing anew its resources, data, wisdom and partnerships toward reducing the burgeoning opioid crisis in Louisiana.”

The plan’s response is built upon five pillars — surveillance, prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery — allowing the Department to address not only health, but also the social and economic consequences associated with opioid misuse and addiction.

“By approaching the opioid crisis with the five pillars, we can address this epidemic at all levels: socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. We’re also setting people up with a continuum of care that supports a lifetime of recovery,” Gee said. “With widespread public education, aggressive prevention campaigns, recovery support services, quality treatment services and a robust network of partnerships working together, we have the tools to eradicate opioid misuse in Louisiana.”

The full plan can be viewed online at