Amount of fatal drug overdoses on the rise, according to parish coroner

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The number of lives lost to fatal drug overdoses in Calcasieu Parish this year is 57, according to the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office, and they said that number is expected to double by the end of 2021.

The coroner’s office explains they haven’t found a correlation between fatal overdoses and a particular age group, gender or race, but one drug seems to be the explanation they are looking for.

“Calcasieu Parish ended with a total of 52 fatal overdoses,” Chief Investigator Charlie Hunter said. “As we are here today, Calcasieu Parish is currently at 57 overdoses. If the numbers continue in this trend throughout the rest of the year, we are expected to hit 120 overdoses.”

That’s over double the number of fatal overdoses since last year. Hunter explains there is one common denominator in toxicology screenings.

“Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid,” Hunter said. “And we are seeing it mixed with everything from cocaine, to heroine, to even hand-pressed pills that look similar to a normal prescription pill, but it’s actually mixed with a fatal level of fentanyl.”

Hunter said common drugs are becoming increasingly laced with the deadly opioid.

“When you look at the use of how many administrations from emergency medical services and law enforcement were administered Narcan or Naloxone, the lives that were potentially saved this year is well into the hundreds,” Hunter said.

There are several resources and programs that are available to the public. With the increase of opioid cases, medicated assisted treatment has proven to be successful, according to officials.

“So, at Imperial Calcasieu, we actually have physicians that provide medication-assisted treatment, and there is also some community providers that provide that service, as well,” Executive Director of Imperial Calcasieu Human Services Tanya McGee said.

Officials say they saw an increase in overdoses, especially since the pandemic and hurricanes, but they have also seen an increase in the number of people seeking help.

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