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Drug And Alcohol Rehab Resources In Louisiana

Louisiana--nicknamed "the "Pelican State" because of the many pelicans that used to inhabit the state's Gulf coast, but also known as the "Bayou State" because of its many slow moving, marshy waterways --brings to mind incredible French-Cajun food, mind-altering jazz and blues, and the exuberant indulgence of the yearly Mardi gras celebrations. But there's a downside to its bacchanalian reputation. A dark cloud looms on the Louisiana horizon, and it's far more deadly than any hurricane.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a national problem, and no state in the US has been spared. But for Louisiana—which has always grappled with a large amount of poverty--the circumstances are particularly challenging. We know that there is a correlation between poverty and addiction, and Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the nation, with 18.6% of Louisiana residents living below the poverty line in 2018. More than one-quarter of Louisiana's children live in poverty.

Given Louisiana's poverty rate and high addiction statistics, it would be easy to think that being poor causes addiction. But, when we look at the relationship between addiction and poverty, we quickly realize that it's a bit more complicated.

Poverty and Addiction: Two Wings of the Same Bird

Poorer people are statistically more likely to struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, but this doesn't necessarily mean that poverty causes addiction, per se. In fact in some cases, financial troubles are the direct result of a substance use disorder.

Poverty does increase stress, and stress is well recognized as a factor for substance abuse and relapse. When you're struggling, there's a great temptation to turn to substances that make you feel good, like drugs and alcohol. Poverty also increases feelings of hopelessness and decreases self-esteem, which can leave some people more vulnerable to developing substance abuse disorders. But, addiction can cause people to slip into poverty too. Someone who is solidly middle class can fall into poverty if their addiction leads to poor work performance and job loss. It can also then be harder to get a new job, if someone has been fired from their old one. It's a vicious downward spiral.

Louisiana's Pain Pill Problem

Much like the rest of the United States, the scourge of opioid addiction has blown through Louisiana like a hurricane, laying waste to whole communities, and decimating families. It's a particularly menacing foe because it's an addiction that can sneak up on people, even when they think they're being vigilant.

Prescription painkillers (like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are highly addictive, in large part because they activate the powerful reward centers in the human brain. These drugs trigger the release of endorphins, (your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters) which mask or interrupt your perception of pain and enhance feelings of pleasure and happiness, creating a short-lasting but extremely powerful sense of well-being. It's only human to love the feeling! And, when an opioid starts to wear off, it's in our very human nature to crave the return of that wonderful sense that everything is perfect and as it should be. This is the first step on the path toward addiction, and it can happen even to people who think they're being careful.

The root of the opioid problem stems from doctors over-prescribing these highly addictive drugs when, in many cases, Tylenol, Excedrin or Advil will do. These drugs may seem safe, especially when doctors prescribe them, but just one or two of few these prescription pain pills can get people hooked and send them off on a downward spiral into the throes of full-on dependency. Southern states, including Louisiana, have the most prescriptions per person for opioid painkillers.

A Morbid Graduation: From Pills to Heroin

Unfortunately, prescription painkiller abuse can often send people down far darker paths. Opioids often lead to heroin addiction, (as heroin is cheaper than the pills, and usually far easier to obtain on the street.) The spiral downward doesn't stop there. When certain street drugs like heroin aren't available, drug abusers often then turn to incredibly powerful and dangerous synthetics like fentanyl, which sooner or later result in a body bag. In the United States, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths, responsible for 59% of all opioid-related decedents.

Commonly Abused Substances In Louisiana

A 2010 study took a look at the substances most commonly abused by Louisiana youth, and the numbers are concerning:


  • 22% of Louisiana high school students (grades 9-12) report they drank alcohol for the first time before age 13.
  • 34% of these same high school students report they had at least 1 drink of alcohol on at least 1 day during the last month.
  • 13% of Louisiana high school students (grades 9-12) report they had 4 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (if they were female) or 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (if they were male), within a couple of hours, on at least 1 day during the last month. (This qualifies as binge drinking.)


37% of Louisiana high school students (grades 9-12) report they've used marijuana in their lifetime. (This is particularly concerning because we know that marijuana can arrest brain development in young people and can also lead to the use or harder, even more harmful substances.

Cocaine / Crack

10% of high school students report they've cocaine (in any form.)

-Prescription Painkillers / Opioids

4% of Louisiana young (ages 12-17) report using pain relievers in any way not directed by a doctor.

Fighting The Good Fight

The good news for Louisianans struggling with drug and alcohol addiction is that help is only a few clicks away. The Pelican State is awash in resources, whether you just need counseling, a larger community-based approach, or full-on detox services. All it takes is the courage to take the first, terrifying step. Embrace the pain that got you here. Use it, own it, and move past it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.




Louisiana State Facts
Louisiana Population: 4,464,238
Law Enforcement Officers in Louisiana: 19,833
Louisiana Prison Population: 47,100
Louisiana Probation Population: 36,319
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 6

2004 Federal Drug Seizures in Lousiana
Cocaine: 678 kgs.
Heroin: 0.7 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 83.1 kgs.
Marijuana: 864.2 kgs.
Ecstasy: 22,475 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 74 (DEA, state, and local)

Louisiana Drug Situation: The illegal drug threat in Louisiana is the widespread availability and abuse of major drugs such as cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin, along with its homegrown marijuana and the increasing danger of local manufacture of methamphetamine and designer drugs. Conventional drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana comprise the bulk of drugs shipped through and arriving in the Louisiana. Overland transportation utilizing private and commercial vehicles continues to be the most commonly encountered smuggling method in Louisiana. Elevated security due to the September 11th tragedy has deterred transportation of most drugs via commercial air travel. Colombian, Mexican and Caribbean traffickers traveling to and from Miami, Houston, or the Southwest Border via I-10, I-12, I-20 (East / West routes) and Interstate 55 (North / South route) are largely responsible for the transportation and distribution of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and marijuana into Louisiana. Additionally, regional and local DTOs ensure widespread availability throughout the state. Regional DTOs have also made significant inroads into the distribution of imported designer drugs such as MDMA and GHB, particularly near larger metropolitan areas of Louisiana where college populations are heavy. Various pharmaceuticals such as OxyContin have penetrated the illicit drug market at an alarming rate and in some areas accounts for more deaths than any other pharmaceutical drug.

Cocaine in Louisiana: The widespread availability of powdered cocaine and the distribution and abuse of crack cocaine are still the primary illicit drug threats in Louisiana. Law enforcement agencies continue to make large seizures of cocaine, especially powdered cocaine, on the southern interstate corridors in Louisiana. Louisiana law enforcement authorities remain concerned due to cocaine's impact on the community in terms of its direct correlation to incidents of violent crime and homicide. Houston and Miami are the primary source cities for cocaine in Louisiana. Mexican and Black American criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of powdered cocaine in Louisiana. Caucasian, Dominican, Haitian, and Jamaican criminal groups also distribute powdered cocaine at the wholesale level in New Orleans but to a lesser extent. These criminal groups supply wholesale quantities of powdered cocaine to Black American and Hispanic gangs as well as local independent dealers who convert most of the powdered cocaine to crack.

Heroin in Louisiana: Altogether, heroin distribution and abuse is not a significant threat in Louisiana, with the exception of the greater New Orleans area. Most heroin entering Louisiana is in transit from Texas and California to either the Midwest or Northeast U.S. Heroin distribution and abuse in New Orleans has reached an all time high, advancing the city into a regional distribution center. It is being transported primarily through commercial parcel delivery services, body carry on commercial air flights, commercial buses as well as via vessels from Colombian ports. Heroin available in the New Orleans area is of South American origin with purity levels as high as 45 percent. When cut with mannitol, the color is off-white, however street distributors also use brown sugar to cut their product, resulting in a slightly darker color. Heroin is shipped into Louisiana using various modes of transportation. The primary consumers of Colombian heroin are typically younger, middle to upper class Caucasian adults from the New Orleans suburbs. They come into the inner city to buy the drug, and have higher consequences of overdosing because of the extreme purity levels. New Orleans drug treatment centers report that the high purity levels have resulted in an increase of overdoses, and highly addicted patients. Younger abusers of all races are mixing the heroin with other drugs for the 'cocktail' effect. Caucasian youth frequent the housing projects in search of heroin.

Methamphetamine in Louisiana: Production, trafficking and illegal abuse of methamphetamine continues to be the fastest growing drug problem in Louisiana. Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors in Louisiana of methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and Southwestern states. Caucasian independent dealers distribute locally produced methamphetamine. Because of the rural nature of Northern Louisiana and the abundance of horses and livestock, iodine crystals, commonly used in the handling of farm animals and as precursor chemical used in the ephedrine process of methamphetamine manufacturing, are widely available and accessible. Anhydrous ammonia is also readily available in Louisiana. Due to the recent increase in clandestine methamphetamine laboratory seizures throughout the state, law enforcement authorities can expect a continuing increase in clandestine lab investigations. Almost nonexistent three years ago, methamphetamine related cases and arrest are now occurring statewide. The movement within the state seems to be from north to south. State agencies note a direct relationship between methamphetamine distribution and abuse & violent crime, particularly domestic violence, child abuse, aggravated assault and murder. Another factor is the profound environmental damage (5 to 7 lbs. of toxic waste / lb. of methamphetamine) resulting from methamphetamine production and the associated cost of remediating these laboratory sites. In addition, methamphetamine producers and distributors sometimes resort to violence to protect their laboratories and territories. Some methamphetamine producers are heavily armed and booby-trap their laboratories to guard against law enforcement seizures or theft by competitors. The most recent associated crime threat to Louisiana involving methamphetamine is the theft of anhydrous ammonia. There have been several incidents where individuals were apprehended stealing anhydrous ammonia from businesses as well as methamphetamine. In-state methamphetamine production has become a significant issue in Louisiana. EPIC statistics reported 89 laboratories seized in CY 2003 compared to 132 laboratories in CY 2002, indicating a decline in illicit manufacturing.

Club Drugs in Louisiana: Though most drugs are either declining or holding steady in their abuse or distribution, "Club Drug" abuse and distribution among teenagers and young adults is on the rise in Louisiana. Police and treatment counselors throughout the state report an increase in the availability and abuse of MDMA (ecstasy), Ketamine, Rohypnol, LSD, and GHB. GHB and MDMA are the drugs of choice and the end-users are young Caucasians at all economic levels. MDMA from sources in California, Texas and Florida is distributed to college aged youths. Counterfeit pills are also sold to young adults as MDMA and have become an extremely lucrative business in Shreveport nightclubs. Vietnamese trafficking groups are now playing a role in the influx of MDMA into the New Orleans area.

Marijuana in Louisiana: Marijuana is the most widely available illicit drug in Louisiana. Most marijuana available in Louisiana is produced in Mexico; however, marijuana produced locally and neighboring states is also readily available. The availability of high-grade domestically produced marijuana has increased due to modern techniques of indoor cultivation (i.e., the use of cloning and hydroponics to increase the potency). In many regions of Louisiana, the price of marijuana has been decreasing due to the availability of Mexico produced marijuana transported from hub cities in Texas (i.e., Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Brownsville & El Paso, Texas). A common practice among distributor is to " bulk up" domestic marijuana with less expense, lower quality Mexico produced marijuana to increase profits. Mexican DTOs clearly dominate the greatest portion of wholesale distribution through Texas into Louisiana. Local independent dealers, street gangs, and some small ethnic drug groups dominate domestic marijuana retail distribution.

Other Drugs in Louisiana: The illegal diversion, distribution and abuse of oxycodone products, particularly OxyContin, has become a significant threat, especially in Louisiana’s southeast parishes. OxyContin is being abused at a rate many law enforcement officials describe as epidemic. The problem is due in part to physicians who write prescriptions for the drug without performing proper screening and examinations. Louisiana pharmacies have also seen an increase in the number of burglaries and robberies as abusers and distributors seek to obtain this and other prescription drugs.

DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 409 deployments completed resulting in 16,763 arrests of violent drug criminals as of February 2004. There have been 13 MET deployments in the State of Louisiana since the inception of the program: Donaldsonville, Concordia Parish, New Orleans, Hammond, Slidell, Shreveport, Bogalusa, Houma, Baker/Zachary, Kenner, St. Landry Parish, Jefferson Parish and two deployments in Alexandria.

DEA Regional Enforcement Teams: This program was designed to augment existing DEA division resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement. This Program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States. Nationwide, there have been 22 deployments completed resulting in 608 arrests of drug trafficking criminals as of February 2004. There have been no RET deployments in the State of Louisiana.

DEA Special Topics: HIDTA - The Gulf Coast HIDTA hosts the following DEA initiatives in Louisiana:

Caddo/Bossier HIDTA Task Force
Network Coordination Group/Intelligence Coordination Network
Major Investigations Team I (Metairie, LA)
Major Investigations Team II (Metairie, LA)
Middle Louisiana Major Investigations Team/Financial Investigations Team (Baton Rouge, LA)
Southwestern Louisiana Major Investigations Team/Financial Investigations Team (Lafayette, LA)