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After a year of record overdose deaths, Louisiana observes Opioid Crisis Awareness day

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 19:33:26-04

LAFAYETTE — Opioid-involved deaths continue to rise. According to the Department of Health, in 2018 LDH reported more than 400 deaths. One year later that number increased by 25% to 588 deaths.

"We have almost reached our opioid overdose this year that we had last year, and were only half way into the year," Kady Douglas, founder of Acadiana Harm Reduction, said.

According to the LDH, fentanyl is quickly becoming the leading cause of opioid-related deaths. In 2019, deaths involving fentanyl increased by 1,400% since 2014. Lafayette Parish alone had 55 overdose deaths in 2019, 25 had fetanyl in their system. In 2020 there were 83 overdose deaths; 50 had fentanyl in their system.

"There's so much fentanyl in fake pills, heroin, we even found it in cocaine and meth in town. So it's really here. It's not a myth, It's in our back yard." Douglas said.

Douglas is no stranger to addiction. She says in 2017 she overdosed but was saved by Narcan, a drug that stops the effects of opioids. That did not stop her from continuing to use heroin and methamphetamine.

"One day I decided my friends were dying and I didn't want to be next. Then my friends kept dying, and I said how can I help?" Douglas said.

Douglas is now more than three years sober. A year ago, Douglas started Acadiana Harm Reduction, a program that allows her to provide free Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, and other supplies to users in hopes of lowering the overdose death rate.

"Nobody can help anybody until they're ready," said Douglas.

To raise attention for the issues, Governor Edwards declared July 28th as Opioid Crisis Awareness Day.

"My father is a mortician in Covington, he sees about 3 overdose funerals a week. That's there, but it's no different here," Douglas explained.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, call 211.