Sen. Cassidy, Mayor Cantrell hold round table discussion on opioid crisis

Sen. Bill Cassidy at opioid crisis round table event.
Sen. Bill Cassidy at opioid crisis round table event.
Updated: May. 30, 2018 at 6:53 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana's senior U.S. senator Bill Cassidy took part in a roundtable discussion with local community stakeholders to talk about the opioid crisis and ways to enhance to the fight against the killer epidemic.

"Law enforcement stressed we cannot arrest our way out of this," Cassidy said afterward.

Law enforcement representatives, and people working to treat opioid addicts were part of the discussion.

"The effects of addition are really crippling the city," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

It is a serious problem that has Sen. Cassidy fighting on Capitol Hill for more resources.

This year, Cassidy co-authored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0 to build on a 2016 law that provides federal funds to fight opioid addiction.

"Which collectively have made about $1.5 billion available for communities to use to put in programs of both prevention and for treatment, now the federal government can put a lot of dollars but we need local leadership to use those dollars and this is what this was all about," said Cassidy.

He told reporters some of the money can be used the number of treatment beds.

"There's several pots of money. One pot the state is negotiating with the federal bureaucracy and those dollars are beginning to flow. Some dollars have already begun to flow, and so different streams, some moving and some about to move," said Cassidy.

"The Odyssey House that is under construction at Washington and Broad came out of aggressive work and focus on the need for additional beds, so that our people can have access to treatment," said Mayor Cantrell.

Cassidy said the money spent must result in worthwhile treatment of those addicted to opioids.

"We're also putting in something that I've authored, an evaluation process for those treatment beds, so that not only is the taxpayer paying for treatment, but we're paying for good treatment," said Cassidy.

Because of the national opioid epidemic a lot of effort has been put into educating doctors about prescribing the drugs.

"Louisiana has led the way in educating dentists and physicians and other prescribers as to, to limit that initial prescription, not somebody with chronic pain, but somebody who has that initial problem, to limit the number of pills," said Sen. Cassidy.

He said the medical community is also embracing opioid drug alternatives.

"There's going to be a little bit of a rub as we transition to using fewer opioids but if you look at the data people on opioids don't feel good," said Sen. Cassidy.

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