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Baton Rouge selected as pilot community for addiction intervention program

BATON ROUGE, La (LOCAL 33) - Facing Addiction announced Monday that Baton Rouge has been selected as one of 15 communities to participate in the organization’s pilot community project to positively affect alcohol and drug abuse. The project, first announced by Facing Addiction in 2015, will work to enact an action plan or public response to the addiction crisis in Baton Rouge via a grassroots-driven campaign strategy.

Capital Area Human Services (CAHS) will guide the community-driven project to create a public response to addiction through grassroots-driven programming. CAHS actively sought the Facing Addiction grant because of the drug abuse epidemic and the agency's record of developing community coalitions with leadership and stakeholders to reduce substance use problems in their local communities.

"CAHS’s role has been to create and support coalitions through oversight of federal, state, and local grant funded programs," said CAHS Executive Director Jan Kasofsky, Ph.D. "We invite Baton Rouge community groups, organizations, and neighborhood activists to get involved with us as we begin to formulate a plan of action for this important work." 

Facing Addiction will work with CAHS and other communities in America to secure increases in localized funding to adequately address the crisis; train advocates on proper organizational and advocacy techniques to reform their community’s response; invest time and resources in communication opportunities with elected officials and other policy makers; provide media guidance to garner press and broadcast coverage to further highlight the solutions to the problem; and develop political strategies and aid community stakeholders in the development of an overarching “campaign strategy.”

“As addiction to alcohol and other drugs now impacts one in three households in America, we must urgently work to turn the tide on this health crisis. "We received over 50 applications from communities across the country for this program,” said Greg Williams, Facing Addiction’s co-founder and executive vice president. “We are excited about the prospect of working to train, organize and mobilize citizens in Baton Rouge to ensure a shift toward a public, health-centered response to those impacted by addiction.”            

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the total number of drug overdose deaths has increased from 64 in 2014 to 89 in 2017. Local officials and public health specialists are focusing heavily on the escalating opioid epidemic. According to EBR Coroner, Dr. Beau Clark, there is a growing and potentially deadly assortment of drugs being sold to heroin users, including the incredibly potent prescription drug fentanyl, which is manufactured in growing quantities on the underground market.   

Facing Addiction is a national non-profit organization dedicated to unifying the voices of the more than 45 million Americans and their families directly impacted by addiction. Facing Addiction is bringing together the best resources in the field to reduce the human and social costs of addiction, every year, until this public health crisis is eliminated. The organization was launched in historic fashion on October 4, 2015, in front of tens of thousands on the National Mall at the "UNITE to Face Addiction" rally and concert, and recently was co-sponsor of the launch of the U.S. Surgeon General’s seminal report on the addiction crisis in America, in Los Angeles this past November. 

 Led by Capital Area Human Services Executive Director Jan Kasofsky, Ph.D., CAHS recently launched a newly redesigned website www.realhelpbr.com to offer the community a more streamlined experience that includes easier navigation and detailed information about available mental health, addiction prevention and recovery services. The agency is also conducting  intensive alcohol and drug prevention programming in West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes. 

CAHS was established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1996 to respond to the local needs of citizens by directing the operation and management of public, community-based programs and services relative to mental health, developmental disabilities, and addictive disorders services for the parishes of Ascension, East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, and Pointe Coupee. 

Organizations and local agencies can contact Facing Addiction’s National Director of Outreach & Engagement, Michael King, at mking@facingaddiction.org or locally Capital Area Human Services’ Program Manager, Karen Pino, at karen.pino@la.gov.


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