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Tackling the opioid crisis in Central Louisiana

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT
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CENTRAL LOUISIANA. (KALB) - The Louisiana Opioid Surveillance Program has tracked an increase in drug overdose deaths in Louisiana. The organization said this is largely due to the increase in the presence of illegally manufactured fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is much stronger than morphine, making it addictive and deadly.

From January to April of 2021 in Louisiana, there were 374 synthetic opioid deaths, that’s 60 more deaths than all of 2019, just in the first four months of the year.

“We have been seeing more and more overdoses especially with fentanyl,” said Dr. Samantha Zirengue, a trauma surgeon at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, which is the common opioid that we use in the hospital. It reacts differently with everybody’s body, so some people even though they are used to opioids, a very small dose can have fatal side effects.”

People who use drugs could inadvertently take a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“We had a meeting with the crime lab just last week, and he was telling us that the marijuana that’s being seized in Central Louisiana, that over 50% of it is not just marijuana, it’s marijuana that’s being laced with fentanyl,” said Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain.

Just this year, the Alexandria Fire Department has responded to 291 overdoses in the City of Alexandria.

With this rise in deadly drug use, the Central Louisiana Human Services District is working to help those addicted to drugs.

“We accept walk-ins, as well as appointments, we receive individuals that are ready for their next step in their recovery from other inpatient facilities, maybe you just say I’m ready. Whenever you call the number, you’ll reach somebody on the other line that will get you scheduled to get you to the steps that you need to go ahead and get started. So please if you feel that you need help, come,” said Skylar Anthony, a clinical social worker at CLHSD.

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