BR.opioidsummit.120618 TS 95.jpg

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome speak with media members during a break at a summit with Capital Area Human Services and local healthcare professionals releasing a nine-point plan to locally address the opioid epidemic Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 at BREC's Milton J. Womack Building.

In an opioid addiction epidemic that’s claimed thousands of lives across America, Louisiana has ranked among the top states for the rate at which the painkiller is prescribed.

Last year, the state got a nearly $30 million boost in federal money to combat the problem, and such support is critical. But government can’t answer this tragedy alone. That’s why we welcome the news that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Health District, a nonprofit collaborative of key local health care providers, have partnered with The Advocate to advance an opioid awareness campaign.

Amid opioid crisis, grant aims to reduce overdoses and drug related crime in Baton Rouge

The good news is that progress in preventing opioid addiction is possible. Last year, Blue Cross launched a new policy to improve the way opioid prescriptions are authorized for its members. Opioid prescriptions and dispensing of such medication dropped nearly 20 percent under the new policy in 2018. Blue Cross also supports a hotline for members who might need help with drug or alcohol addiction at (877) 326-2458.

That kind of assistance will be critical in addressing opioid addiction here and across the country. On this grave issue, we hope 2019 will be a year of progress, too.