BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In East Baton Rouge Parish, 245 people have died from drug overdose in 2020, and more of those deaths are showing up in 2021.
Even before the start of the pandemic, the opioid crisis was a big problem, but now statistics are showing crisis is only getting out of control.
The Whitesell family, knows this all too well. Melissa Whitesell is mourning the loss of her 27 year old daughter, Madelaine.
Today, Whitesell reads a poem that her daughter wrote while in a rehab facility as motivation to rebuild her life, “Monsters I’ve met, I met a ghost but he didn’t want my head, he only wanted to know the way to Denver.” As of now, It’s all her mother has to hold on to. “You know if you can only go out once because of the pandemic, you are going to go get what you can get,” says Whitesell.
Whitesell says her daughter’s struggle with addiction started small:= with alcohol and marijuana, but then it became more sinister.
Though for a while, it seemed Madelaine had beaten her heroin problem before the pandemic. “As a parent, it’s a hard thing to bury your child knowing that you were five minutes from her and the last thing you hear is, ‘I’ll be ready, 15 minutes.’ I said okay, I’ll be there in 15 minutes. You know, it’s hard for my mother, whose 82, to have to make the call to me and said get here as fast as you can,” Whitesell describes.
The CDC counted more than 81,000 drug over doses in 2020. In East Baton Rouge, overdoses nearly doubled, causing 245 deaths last year.
The District Attorney thinks overdoses have already taken around 40 lives in 2021.
“I know there’s no way to stop it a 100%, but there’s a way to regulate it in some sense. You know, why are these people still being allowed on the streets,” adds Whitesell. Whitesell says the drug dealer sold her daughter the fentanyl that killed her has not been arrested. So from now on, Whitesell will remember Madelaine through photos and poems.
Now, she hopes for a change in the future that way no other families will have to go through this.
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