BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office and Capital Area Human Services launched a new campaign Thursday to fight drug use, specifically, heroin and synthetic marijuana.
At Thursday's press conference, the group announced that they will be using PSAs on the radio, television and social media to get the message out. There will also be posters and billboards. Campaigns in the past have tried to fight the same problem but with target audiences, but this time, leaders say the new campaign will target everyone.
"A lot of death in our community that is a result of unnatural disease is completely preventable," said Dr. Beau Clark, EBR Parish Coroner.
Dr. Clark's office is partnering with Capital Area Human Services to launch new PSAs exposing the dangers of using heroin and synthetic marijuana. The coroner said those dangers are more evident than ever before in EBR with 24 deaths this year blamed on heroin and three on "Mojo".
CAHS wanted the PSAs to look as real as possible, so they enlisted the help of some former addicts.
For Tonja Myles, it's personal. She's overdosed before. Now, she's a minister giving eulogies to people who, unlike her, didn't get another chance.
"This year, I think I've done six funerals and four of them were drug related,one mojo. I knew the person," said Myles, Peer Support Specialist with Capital Area Human Services. "That is such a sad thing to stand over the casket and do the eulogy of someone who had such a great future and now they're dead."
Myles and a focus group talked to other real users to help make their PSA videos look as real as possible, even enlisting the acting talents of Ivan Toldson.He also used drugs.
When asked what it means for him to be part of the campaign, Toldson, who now works for Capital Area Human Services replied, "It means everything. Drugs nearly took me out."
Organizers say the campaign will hit EBR schools, the media and the streets in the coming weeks.