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May 05, 2023

Fentanyl in New Orleans: How the Weight of the Fentanyl Epidemic Is Crushing the Crescent City

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In recent years, coroners’ offices in Southeast Louisiana and across the country have seen an alarming uptick in fentanyl-related overdose deaths.

This increase in fentanyl-related overdoses has cast a shadow over Metro New Orleans — with some areas reporting multiple overdoses a day.

While the fentanyl epidemic is undoubtedly an uphill battle, a city as resilient as New Orleans has what it takes to win against this deadly drug.

But the first step in any battle is learning about your opponent.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl was first synthesized in 1959 by Belgian chemist Paul Janssen. The drug was initially used in the 1960s as an anesthetic for surgery and for treating severe pain. Since then, fentanyl has been developed into various forms for different medical uses, such as lozenges for cancer pain, transdermal patches for chronic pain management, and injectable formulations for anesthesia.

However, in recent years, fentanyl has been linked to a growing number of deaths in the United States. This powerful drug, which is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, has become one of the most addictive drugs in the country due to its widespread availability and low cost.

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The Fentanyl Epidemic in New Orleans

Fentanyl use has created an epidemic across America — with fentanyl overdoses being the leading cause of death for the 18 to 45 age group, according to CDC data.

New Orleans, in particular, has been unable to wiggle out of the deadly grasp of the fentanyl epidemic.

The fentanyl crisis in New Orleans started when the fentanyl supply began outpacing demand for other opioids, such as heroin or oxycodone. The drug spread quickly throughout the city and soon became readily available on street corners and through online vendors.

The impact of the fentanyl epidemic in New Orleans is devastating. The opioid crisis has led to a surge in overdose deaths, increased crime rates, and strained public safety resources. As the city struggles to find solutions, it must address an underlying problem: the influx of fentanyl into its streets.

“The DEA maintains that most of the fentanyl is being produced in China, is being shipped to Mexico, and then being imported into the United States. The vast majority is being imported. It’s not being made here, but it’s being cut here,” St. Tammany Parish Coroner, Dr. Charles Preston, told in a recent interview.

Because fentanyl is cheap and easy to produce and transport, dealers and cartels can easily smuggle large amounts of the drug into towns and cities.

According to the Orleans Parish Coroner, this has significantly increased fentanyl overdoses throughout New Orleans. The numbers are even more daunting than one could imagine:

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To tackle this issue, law enforcement agencies are turning to harm reduction initiatives such as Narcan distribution — with Dr. Preston even recommending Louisiana residents keep Narcan as part of their household first-aid kit.

“Most agencies use an ‘administer one, leave one’ policy. People are likely to succumb again… You can get it free from any fire station in St. Tammany right now and from the coroner’s office. If you want to buy it, it runs from $30 to $50 a dose… Some older people tell me their kids are grown, they don’t need it. I ask, What about your next-door neighbor’s kids? What about the guy who drops in front of you at the grocery?”

Efforts To Address the Fentanyl Epidemic In New Orleans

The New Orleans Police Department, community organizations, and public health officials are all taking critical steps to address the fentanyl epidemic in the city. The NOPD is working with local healthcare providers and law enforcement agencies to identify areas where overdoses occur most frequently and target illegal drug activity. They also offer resources such as Narcan training for police officers who may come into contact with fentanyl overdoses on the job.

In addition to these efforts, numerous community groups have been formed to help those affected by opioid addiction. These grassroots initiatives support recovery through education about harm reduction strategies and access to treatment services like medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Additionally, various events have been held throughout the city that bring together experts from different fields to share knowledge about how best to tackle this growing problem.

Public health departments are leading many of these efforts on a larger scale. For instance, they are providing data related to overdose deaths so that trends can be better understood, developing educational materials tailored towards populations most affected by opioids, and coordinating cross-sector collaboration between government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders.

Through unified action across sectors — policymakers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and attorneys — we can strive for practical solutions that will ultimately improve the quality of life in New Orleans.

Contact NOLA Detox and Recovery Center For Fentanyl Addiction Treatment In New Orleans

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If you’re caught in the tough grip of fentanyl addiction, NOLA Detox and Recovery Center can help you break free.

Our specialized programs offer medical supervision to ensure safety during withdrawal while providing access to counseling, therapy sessions, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment, as well as holistic healing practices such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, art therapy, and music therapy. The team of qualified professionals at NOLA Detox and Recovery Center is dedicated to offering a one-of-a-kind approach toward recovery by providing personalized attention and compassion.

Our highly experienced staff specializes in treating substance abuse disorders like opioid and stimulant addiction in Louisiana.

Contact us today to take charge of your addiction treatment and find a program that will work for you.

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