BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — With opioid overdoses skyrocketing across Louisiana and the nation, Louisiana 211 is now offering easy, free ways for patients to get support and resources.

Texting the word “OPIOID” to 898-211 can get patients access to local resources in just moments, while also giving them a connection to live crisis support, confidentially. The number can be used for personal help, and also for family members who need support for a loved one who is struggling the opioid abuse. Texting the number can put a person in contact with first responders, law enforcement, and medical and mental health providers who need to connect people to additional help after an overdose or relapse.

“Opioid statistics are shocking — especially in Louisiana where opioid overdose deaths jumped 60% from 2019 to 2020 from 539 to 862,” stated a press release from Louisiana 211. “Adding in overdoses caused by synthetic opioids and the total jumps to 1500 deaths in 2020 – up from 852 in 2019 (numbers provided by the Louisiana Department of Health). Even worse, the 2021 numbers are on track to be even higher.”

Nationally, more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year, a record number that reflects a rise of nearly 30% from 2019, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Giving Louisianians a new, confidential way to get this information was mission critical for us,” said Sarah Berthelot, president and CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways. “Whether the information is for themselves or their loved ones, calling or texting 211, gives those in need a place to start finding the information that could save a life.”

“In Louisiana, the number of opioid overdoses is astounding. And what already was a crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Center for Health Statistics predicts Louisiana’s overdoses will rise by more than 40% this year,” said Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Dr. Courtney Phillips. “The 211 OPIOID texting program is a key part of Louisiana’s strategy to address the opioid crisis. So many times individuals and the families who love them don’t know where to turn.”

The Louisiana 211 Opioid Texting Program is funded by the “Opioid Data to Action” grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health’s, Bureau of Community Preparedness.