The Department of Health releases the state’s first opioid response plan, aiming to reduce the state’s opioid crisis. Over 450 deaths were attributed to opioids in the state last year. Assistant secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health Karen Stubbs says prevention is the first step in the right direction.

“The widespread education and awareness through prevention activities, so preventing the use of opioids or opioid addiction, to begin with,” said Stubbs.

Stubbs says another step is enhancing interventions, rescue during an overdose and the capacity for treatment.

“One of the most targeted areas we need to focus on is increasing access to and capacity for treatment.  So this is things like workforce development and expanding access in networks,” said Stubbs.

Stubbs says effective recovery support services and improved real-time data analytics and surveillance of the opioid epidemic are part of the plan.

“Using data to pinpoint all of the activity and raising awareness in communities of the problem,” said Stubbs.

LDH has received over $50 million in opioid federal grants to fund the implementation of the response plan. Last year, the state saw a decrease in the prescription of opioids, but an uptick in opioid-related deaths.