JENNINGS, La (KLFY)– In continuing efforts to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic, Ochsner Lafayette General is partnering with rural communities to bring opioid response programs like the symposium that took place in Jennings Thursday.

“The whole event is about helping our families to understand it is here, it exists, and it’s escalating,” Karen Wyble with Ochsner Lafayette General said.

Wyble said the symposium held in Jennings Thursday morning is just one of the many opioid prevention programs they will hold. Ochsner Lafayette General recently received a $1 million grant to educate rural communities about opioid prevention.

“We were awarded a $1 million grant from the federal government to help provide preventive education as well as treatment and recovery services for families suffering with opioid addictions,” Wyble said.

Wyble said in addition to providing preventative education, the grant will also provide free Narcan to rural communities that might not have had the resources.

“And also, we wanted the community to understand that as a rural community, we’re not exempt from the same things that big cities have,” Wyble said. “Some people think it only happens in the it is happening across the country.”

The Louisiana Department of Health reports opioid related deaths in 2014 were 259, and by 2021, almost 1,400 hundred deaths were opioid-related. Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods said the grant will be beneficial as there should be more programs throughout the community, especially gearing them towards the youth.

“Definitely more programs, I mean, it’s even better when you get somebody from your own community and then it’s teaching the kids that, you know, you can be a leader of your community,” Woods said.

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