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Drug-Free LouisianaLafayette

Opioid Epidemic and the Community

In 2015 52,000 people died of an overdose according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration— that number totals to the amount of soldiers lost in the Vietnam War.

“It’s a pain reliever and they’re often prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain”said John Witt, Quality Improvement Coordinator with Acadian Ambulance.

“Per one hundred people, there are 111 prescriptions” Brad Byerley, Special Agent with the DEA.

Opioids are common in Acadiana .

“So just to make that clear, we have more prescriptions in this state than we have people” said Byerley.

Local experts are teaming up to provide information on what’s being done to curb this crisis and what they’re seeing..

“We do respond to overdoses opioid overdoses are in conjunction with other medications or alcohol and typically what you see are patients with shallow breath” said Witt.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in the last several years, law enforcement has seen a dramatic increase in the availability in synthetic opioids.

“What can be a huge issue is when you start abusing the synthetic opioids like fentanyl you think you’re taking one thing and your actually taking something that’s 50 to 100 times more potent” said Witt.

According to the DEA, during the first quarter, their lab had 230 identifications of fentanyl or fentanyl related substances. Accounting for 58 percent of all the identifications.

“I think it’s really important we educate the public because they think of opioids again they’re probably thinking about hydrocodone and as synthetic opioids are gaining strength. These things are really potent.” said Witt.

Wednesday at 6PM at the Victory Addiction Recovery center–a panel consisting of experts from healthcare, law enforcement, and criminal justice will be available to field questions and discuss what they are seeing on the front line. they will also present how they are addressing it through prevention and discussion.