In the Arena: What Odyssey House Louisiana is doing to fight opioid addiction

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NEW ORLEANS -- The opioid crisis in Louisiana is hitting the Greater New Orleans region hard. In the last two years, more than 300 people died of opioid-related overdoses in the City of New Orleans alone.

"We need a plan to deal with the opioid epidemic," says Ed Carlson, CEO of Odyssey House Louisiana. Odyssey House specializes in addiction treatment.

"There is a lot of money starting to come down from Congress on the federal level specifically to help focus on the opioid epidemic," says Carlson. "We need to have a strategic plan that is going to be able to focus on dealing with the epidemic."

Carlson joined host John Young for a discussion about treating opioid addiction in this month's (July's) episode of In the Arena.

He says we should focus on three things to fight the opioid crisis: prevention, intervention, and treatment.

One form of prevention is being aware of how doctors prescribe opioids for pain manangement in the first place. "You would be surprised what 800 milligrams of Motrin will do before you go to a opioid-based product," says Carslon.

Intervention requires coordination between the people who first come into contact with people addicted to opioids.

"When we identify someone--the criminal justice system or hospital, in the emergency rooms, or being seen by their doctor--they are being identified as having a problem," says Carlson.  "What we need to do is we need to intervene at that point and help move them to treatment."

And, treatment is where Odyssey House Louisiana comes in.

"You have to treat these people in order to help get them to the point where they can become productive members of society," says Carlson. "A lot of people do not have to lose everything, their whole lives do not have to become an absolute mess, if you can get access to treatment and treatment services. We need good quality treatment--evidence-based treatment."

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.

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