BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It's no secret, America is in the midst of an opioid crisis.
An alarming new study by HealthTestingCenters.com called American Epidemic: Where in America is Fentanyl Claiming the Most Lives, shows Louisiana ranks number 18 for the most deaths from fentanyl in the entire country.
That study looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) through 2018.
In the state, deaths related to fentanyl use increased by 1050% from 2013 to 2017.
The CDC reports an estimated 67,860 people died after overdosing on drugs in 2018.
Here in Louisiana and East Baton Rouge Parish, researchers are seeing a scary similar trend.
“We’re starting to see that trajectory of overdose deaths going in a direction where it has the possibility of surpassing homicides, as well as motor vehicle crashes too,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner, Dr. William ‘Beau’ Clark.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that medical professionals say is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
“As your respiratory rate slows down, obviously the human body cannot survive without oxygen. And when you run out of oxygen you die,” said Clark.
According to data from the EBR Coroner’s Office, there were 102 deadly overdoses in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2018. Of that overdose deaths, 32 of those were from fentanyl.
As of September 5, 2019, 84 people have died of overdoses in East Baton Rouge Parish. Of those deaths, 25 involved fentanyl.
“This grant, in particular, is an innovative prosecution grant. Our focus with it, is to not only impact the drug market in East Baton Rouge Parish, but to save lives,” said John Daily with the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office.
The overdose numbers have caught the attention of District Attorney Hillar Moore's Office.
His office now has a federal grant to combat illegal opioids and related violent crime.
They're still collecting info, and ready to kick things into high gear.
“If you can find the heroin, fentanyl dealer, you can make cases against the actual dealer, not the user. Then, you can get that person off the street and maybe stop some of the supply,” said District Attorney Hillar Moore.
A spokesperson with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office says deputies carry the life-saving drug to treat overdoses, Narcan, with them.
A spokesperson with the Baton Rouge Police Department says agency leaders have discussed giving officers Narcan to carry with them, but haven’t gotten to that point quite yet.