In the Arena: What Louisiana is doing to fight the opioid crisis

NEW ORLEANS -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a map of overdose death rates on its website. Louisiana is in the red.

The map shows states with a "statistically significant" increase in the drug overdose death rate from 2015 to 2016--an increase of 14.7%.

We are joined by 26 other states in red, including our fellow Gulf Coast states Texas and Florida, along with a cluster of Midwest and East Coast states.

Louisiana's Department of Health is in charge of getting us out of the red. But, they aren't taking a top-down approach to finding a solution.

"No one knows that better than the local communities," says Karen Stubbs, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health.  "So, we have a great partnership with, for example, Metropolitan Human Services District, who is on the street and working with those providers."

Stubbs spoke with host John Young about what the state is doing to fight the opioid crisis in this month's (July's) episode of In the Arena.

She says the state is using federal grants to get feedback from communities affected by the opioid crisis and to educate people about the risks.

"The average person might not associate opioids with the medicine they are actually taking because it was prescribed legitimately in a lot of situations," says Stubbs. "So, we are having town halls to educate and then gather feedback."

There is also an online survey for people to add their comments and suggestions for the state's opioid policy.

For the entire interview, watch the above video.

In the Arena with John Young airs the first Sunday of every month at 6:30 a.m. on WGNO.