The Louisiana Department of Health is among the recipients of State Opioid Response grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant is among the more than $1 billion in opioid-specific grants SAMHSA awarded nationally in September.

The Department’s Office of Behavioral Health received $23.1 million for a two-year period. The grant funds the Office’s Louisiana State Opioid Response Project, or LaSOR, to combat the state’s opioid crisis. More than 400 Louisianans died of opioid overdose in 2017, a 20 percent increase over 2016.

The Office has allocated the funds toward designated partners to achieve the following goals:

  • Increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for the under- and uninsured with an opioid use disorder (OUD) diagnosis
  • Increasing access to recovery support services for patients on MAT and those re-entering communities from criminal justice settings
  • Increasing outreach to community programs
  • Understanding the needs of Louisiana tribes related to substance use disorder and connection to treatments
  • Increasing public and professional awareness, education for prevention and treatment for patients with an OUD
  • Designated partners for this grant have already been identified. They include opioid treatment programs, LSU Health Science Center-New Orleans Department of Psychiatry, human services agencies, Tulane University, LSU Social Research and Evaluation Center-Baton Rouge, Louisiana Department of Corrections, recovery homes and the Office of Public Health.

The Office of Behavioral Health is working with these partners on an array of projects including:

  • Creating a more robust workforce of physicians who treat OUD
  • Forming support teams to assist physicians with managing and monitoring their enhanced caseload of patients being treated for an OUD
  • Boosting the number of mobile outreach crisis teams across the state through the 10 local human services agencies
  • Prevention efforts such as drop boxes where unused medications can be disposed, greater distribution of naloxone and complementing existing treatment services
  • A pilot program serving opioid-dependent pregnant mothers or newborns with opiate withdrawal syndrome
  • Providing prevention efforts and education to Department of Corrections inmates as they re-enter the community
  • Increasing the number of community-based recovery homes