Opioid epidemic growing in Louisiana

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Opioid use is raising even more concerns for people in Northeast Louisiana. Experts at the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority warn that the consequences could be deadly.

In 2017, 8 people died from opioid abuse in Northeast Louisiana, and experts say the addiction can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, or social status.

The Director of Prevention and Wellness Services for Northeast Delta Human Services Authority, Avius Carroll, says the opioid crisis originated in other states and it's rapidly migrating across the country and into Louisiana.

Carroll says the number of people addicted to these substances is rising quickly, and it's not just in adults. Reports show there's even a rise in babies being born with opioid addictions.

Carroll says getting access to these drugs isn't hard.

"I won’t say that prescription pills played the biggest part of the opioid addiction, but it's a large contributor,” Carroll says. “Here in our state, there are 105 prescriptions for every 100 individuals. More than everybody here could have at least one prescription for an opioid."

They say one of the major concerns is that opioid abuse could lead to the use of stronger drugs, like heroin and fentanyl.

Substance abuse treatment centers are opening in Northeast Louisiana in places like Bastrop and Ruston.

Carroll says the recovery process is a life-long battle, but it’s also life-saving.

Carroll says immediate treatment can include other drugs like methadone to ween people off opioids, as well as therapy and support groups. She says it takes a strong drive by that person to get off opioids, but they also need strong support systems which is why friends and family are also part of the recovery process.

"With any addiction, a support system is wonderful to have as an accountability partner,” Carroll explains. “We always support that and we recommend it for anybody that we see. We also ask the family and friends to come in and be a part of that session."

Carroll says there are other alternatives to opioid use (if prescribed by a doctor) like deep breathing, meditation, and exercising.

The Northeast Delta Human Services Authority also offers Narcan training, so loved ones can be prepared in case of an accidental overdose.

Read the original version of this article at www.knoe.com.