Capital Area Human Services (CAHS) has been awarded a major grant for opioid misuse prevention targeting women and girls in the greater Baton Rouge region. The three-year, $300,000 competitive grant, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH).
“This award provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with our community partners to improve prevention practices to reduce opioid dependence and opioid overdoses. These new strategies will complement and expand our current efforts to reach the population of women and girls,” stated Jan Kasofsky, PhD, CAHS executive director.
CAHS is one of sixteen grantees nationwide receiving this award. Major partners working with CAHS on this project are Ascension Parish School Board, Mirror of Grace Outreach, Fahrenheit Creative Group, and Evaluation Insights to develop and implement prevention strategies including launching a media campaign and educational activities specifically tailored to address the unique needs of women across the lifespan.
Other partners that will provide supportive resources for the project are Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health, Louisiana State University School of Social Work: LA-SBIRT Program, and the ICARE Prevention Program in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The United States has seen an alarming rise in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers and nonprescription opioids among women. A unique combination of biological, health, and social factors has led to the growing opioid epidemic among women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription pain killers increased 218 percent in men, while for women it increased over 471 percent. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among men increased 50 percent, compared to 100 percent in women. In addition to the awards, OWH recently issued a report that examines the impact of the opioid epidemic on women and highlights promising practices that address their specific needs.
In Louisiana, the total number of opioid-related deaths was 305 in 2016. When comparing Louisiana to national rates, Louisiana is among the upper-range states with a drug overdose rate of 15.1-18.4 deaths per 100,000 population and a rate of 9.4-10.3 per 1,000 > age 12 for past year opioid abuse or dependence (CDC, 2016). The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s office reports show that overdose deaths for all drugs have risen from 64 to 89 from 2014 to 2016. Of the drug overdose deaths for 2016, 34 out of the 89 (38%) deaths were related to heroin overdose.
Use of prescription painkillers appears to be a driving force behind the marked increase in opioid overdoses. CDC reports that since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999. Geographical differences in opioid prescription rates are also evident with the Southern states showing the highest rates. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions in the entire United States and actually has more opioid prescriptions than people. Unfortunately, tolerance to opioid drugs over time and difficulty in obtaining prescription opiates causes many to turn to the black market for these drugs or switch from prescription drugs to cheaper and more risky substitutes like heroin.
A comprehensive action plan for the CAHS Opioid Misuse Prevention Program funded by OWH has been developed that uses evidence-based practices with the goal to increase awareness, knowledge and skills to address the opioid epidemic in the Greater Baton Rouge community. Strategies specifically targeting women and girls include (1) launching a media campaign; (2) conducting educational programs in schools and community settings; and (3) distributing consumer and provider educational materials.
About Capital Area Human Services
Capital Area Human Services (CAHS) is the regional authority for mental health, addiction recovery and developmental disabilities in a seven parish area of Greater Baton Rouge. The mission of CAHS is to facilitate person-centered recovery by empowering people of all ages with behavioral health needs and developmental disability challenges to strengthen relationships,