The inaugural North Louisiana Rural Opioid Summit was held February 18, 2020, at the lovely and historic Homer High School. Around 100 attendees from across Claiborne, Webster, Bienville and Lincoln Parishes spent the day discussing the growing opioid crisis as it impacts rural north Louisiana, the state and the nation. Topics included: the origin of the problem, strategies for combatting addiction, treatment as an alternative to incarceration, overprescribing, battling illegal distribution, new drugs in the region, community education, how to change public perception of addiction, Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT), strategies for success in the treatment process, youth education and prevention programs, Naloxone distribution, and personal testimonies from people in recovery and from family members who lost loved ones to addiction.
An impressive list of participants included: the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health’s State Opioid Response Program, US Attorney’s Office (Western District of Louisiana), Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Claiborne Parish District Attorney’s Office, Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Department, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Department, Louisiana Office of Rural Health , Claiborne Parish Coroner’s Office, Northwest Louisiana Human Services District, Claiborne Parish School Board, Lincoln Parish School Board, Shreveport Police Department, Homer Police Department, Claiborne Parish Fire Department, Lincoln Nova Treatment Center, Pafford EMS, Louisiana Opioid Task Force, Claiborne Memorial Medical Center, Springhill Medical Center, Claiborne Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, Senator John Kennedy’s office, Representative Mike Johnson’s office, and State Senator Robert Mills’ office.
Attendees represented a cross section of industries all working together towards success in battling the opioid epidemic: first responders, law enforcement, healthcare workers, clergy, social workers, licensed counselors, public servants, civic leaders, educators, parents and concerned citizens.
The summit was hosted by the “North Louisiana Rural Opioid Healthcare Network,” a coalition headed by Claiborne Memorial Medical Center that has received $1.2 million dollars in federal “Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP)” grants to support the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse in rural communities located in Claiborne, Webster, Bienville and Lincoln Parishes.