The Louisiana Department of Health’s Region 7 (Northwest Louisiana) Office of Public Health (OPH), Louisiana Ambulance Alliance and End the Epidemic Louisiana will help foster open and honest conversations with faith leaders at an opioids awareness breakfast. Held during National Recovery Month, which is observed every September, the event begins at 8 a.m. Friday, September 30 at Independence Stadium Skybox, 3301 Pershing Blvd., Shreveport.
Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins will provide the welcome at the Opioid and Substance Use Awareness Breakfast, where faith leaders will learn:
  • How to identify opioids,
  • Guidelines for safely dosing, storing and disposing of medications,
  • Narcan administration in an emergency, and
  • How to prevent accidental opioid deaths in the faith leaders’ communities.
The breakfast is free and open to all faith leaders who have a part in the ministry of the church. This will include ministers, pastors, church leaders, chaplains and anyone who works within the churches. RSVP to by Wednesday, September 28 or sign up in person on the day of the event.
Region 7 Opioid Outreach Coordinator Yolanda Duckworth, along with Meagan Johnson and Shane Bellard from End the Epidemic, will share Louisiana’s status in the opioid epidemic. Attendees will also hear from two individuals who will share their stories from addiction to recovery.
“Substance use disorder harms individuals, families and communities. It is vital to empower our community leaders with education on opioids, substance use disorder and overdose statistics in our community. We are grateful for the continued partnership of these trusted leaders as together we develop solutions that address the prevalent health issues that we are facing today,” said Dr. Martha Whyte, medical director for OPH Region 7, which serves the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Webster.
Overall, opioid and drug-involved deaths are increasing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the U.S. between 1999 and 2020 nearly 842,000 individuals died from drug overdoses. According to the Louisiana Opioid Data and Surveillance System (LODSS), in 2020 there were 2,121 drug-involved deaths in the state of Louisiana, a sharp increase from 1,485 in 2019. Of those deaths, 982 were opioid related, an increase from 588 the previous year. From LODSS, there were 132 drug-involved deaths reported in Region 7 for 2020, an increase from 105 in 2019.