LAFOURCHE PARISH, La. (WGNO) — A new initiative has been launched in Lafourche Parish to help fight opioid addiction.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSP) announced the launch of Project “COPE,” which is an acronym for “Comprehensive Overdose Prevention Effort.”

Sheriff Craig Webre says deputies are usually called when there’s an overdose in the parish, but the program aims to stop drug addiction before an overdose occurs.

“Sometimes that involvement doesn’t come early enough, leading to devastating consequences for those involved. Through Project COPE, we are creating an opportunity for us to address the problem of addiction before it results in those serious consequences,” said Sheriff Webre.

Webre says education is the goal of Project COPE, promoting public safety and supporting access to prevention, harm-reduction, treatment, and recovery services both in the community and the justice system.

COPE will be a multi-agency effort between the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, the local court system, Lafourche Parish Government, the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office, Lafourche Parish public and private schools, Nicholls State University, and private agencies specializing in prevention, intervention, and treatment.

The plan is to have community outreach to identify families struggling with drug abuse in order to properly place the individual in the proper treatment facility.

Statistics from the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office revealed the number of opioid deaths has been on the rise, with 15 in 2017, 23 in 2020, and 40 in 2021. Sheriff Webre says that while deputies respond with Narcan and investigations, there needs to be more of an effort on the front end.

“Through Project COPE we are setting out to make a serious impact in the effort to fight opioid addiction in our community. It will take more than just one agency or one effort to overcome this issue, but we want to be a proactive partner with the community. Project COPE represents yet another way we are living out our motto of doing whatever it takes to properly serve the public,” said Sheriff Webre.

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