Advisory Council on Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education: Turning Struggle into Strength

My bill, HB 490, is proceeding to final passage today. It has passed unanimously in both the House and Senate and creates an Advisory Council on Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education. HB 490 establishes an interagency government board tasked with collecting data and implementing a unified, state-wide strategy to combat the opioid epidemic that we face.

This is not a new problem. Heroin and opioid addiction have long plagued our community, yet we have failed to effectively treat it. Now the epidemic has reached a critical point as we face a 100% increase in the amount of opioid-related deaths in just one year. More New Orleanians die of drug-related deaths than murders, with opioids accounting for at least 78% of those fatalities. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as opioid-related deaths are often underreported and we don’t know the true depths of the problem. So, how can we defeat something that we don’t fully understand?

It is said that you will only be victorious if you truly know your enemy. HB 490 is designed to give us comprehensive information about opiate addiction in Louisiana so we have the tools we need to beat it. This is a nationwide trend, as more and more policymakers are recognizing that empirical evidence is key in the opioid crisis. In fact, the Louisiana Department of Health was recently granted a $8.1 million federal grant with the explicit purpose of expanding educational campaigns and evidence-based treatments for opiate addiction.

Louisiana is a study in endurance. Louisianans are a portrait of fortitude. We’ve exhibited over and over again an intuitive response to crises that compels us to work together and to persevere. We should continue to move forward with our hearts, but also with evidence and data.

Benjamin Franklin once said the things that hurt, instruct.

HB 490 and everything else I’ve offered during this Session is an effort to move from instinct to intent. We have the opportunity to demonstrate purpose in our policy because we can learn and grow from the things that hurt us most. Through data, we can transform struggle into strength.