Fentanyl overdose deaths on the rise

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 23:33:46-04

A surge in fentanyl overdoses — forever changing families in Acadiana.

Public health officials are out with a warning: these overdoses are on the rise.

In Lafayette Parish, according to the coroner, in 2015 there were 32 overdose deaths — none with fentanyl. Last year, there were 136 overdose deaths — 101 of them caused by synthetic fentanyl.

This year, as of mid-March, there were 38 overdose deaths and fentanyl is named as the cause of 32 of them. With fentanyl overdoses on the rise, there are groups in Acadiana who are out on the streets every week, distributing Narcan.

It can be a life-saving treatment for a fentanyl overdose — and it's all in an effort to prevent yet another family from facing tragedy.

"It's been a little over two months and it still — I feel like I'm in a dream, a nightmare, it doesn't feel real," said Christy Couvillier, whose son Hunter Lee Clemons died in February from a fentanyl overdose. "I never ever would've expected this."

Clemons is Couvillier's first-born son. Now, all she has left of him are memories and photographs. He died at just 22 years old.

"You know my son, you know, did take an ecstasy pill — or what he thought was an ecstasy pill, and that's typically not something that people think contains fentanyl," she said. "It's in everything today, everything."

A single pill Clemons got from a friend, and only half was laced with the killer drug, with just enough to be fatal. Couvillier told KATC it only takes three grains of salt worth of fentanyl to kill a person which is exactly why she is speaking out — and why groups like Acadiana Harm Reduction are taking action.

Thursday night, they were out on the street, distributing Narcan in Lafayette.

"You can't be too careful," said Acadiana Harm Reduction's founder, Kady Douglas. "The only thing we can do is test our substances for fentanyl with fentanyl test strips and keep Narcan on us."

All of this — in hopes no other family has to suffer.

"A lot of times when people are using they only think they are hurting themselves or they are the only one that's taking the pill," Couvillier said. "But the devastation it does to a family, we won't forget Hunter ever, we'll grieve forever for the loss of Hunter, but I know that eventually, we'll be able to pick up the pieces and move on as best as we can."

You can find Acadiana Harm Reduction giving out free Narcan in Lafayette every Thursday from 4 to 5 pm in the Grand 16 parking lot on Johnston Street.

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