NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's no secret: New Orleans, like so many other cities across the U.S., is dealing with an opioid crisis.
City leaders joined medical professionals and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison to share data and discuss the large-scale problem. About 160 people died of an opioid overdose last year, double the amount of deaths from the year before. For each death, the city says many more people are trapped in addiction and something needs to be done about it.
They've come up with a comprehensive plan moving forward. It includes a mass media campaign to educate the community, increasing options for disposing of unwanted prescription opioids, engaging pharmacies to increase opioid counseling to people prescribed the drugs and allowing NOPD officers to carry Narcan.
"The biggest issue is to treat it like a public health threat. If you do that, it takes you into a whole different directions that saves more lives and that's what the big decision is today. Narcan is very important because that helps saves peoples lives really quickly," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
"We must remember that law enforcement, often times, are the ones that arrive at a scene when someone is in distress, and now if they can get there and figure out that this person may be dealing with an opioid overdose, they can give them Narcan, whether it's a nasal spray or the injection, that's so easy to use and save a person's life," New Orleans Council At Large-elect Helena Moreno said.
NOPD officers will soon begin training to carry Narcan, and all patrol officers will have it.