Addiction issues are prevalent all over the United States, and the state of Louisiana is no exception.
With abuse of street and club drugs, as well as the growing epidemic of prescription drug use, the communities in Louisiana are struggling with the various effects of drug abuse on families, the economy, and society at large.
For those who are trying to get help with addiction in Louisiana, it may be difficult to know where to start. There are programs and facilities available across the state that can provide treatment and resources to help people and their families with substance abuse issues. Knowing more about drug abuse in the state, how it can be treated, and where to go for support in recovery can help these people get started down the path to recovery.
The Landscape of Addiction Treatment Programs in Louisiana
The Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health provides oversight of addictive disorders treatment services in the state. As part of the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals, this organization provides treatment services through individual districts and authorities around the state. The treatment services available include:
- Inpatient and outpatient care facilities
- Community-based services: both residential and nonresidential
- Programs specifically for women with children and for opiate addiction
The office has a commitment to care with little or no waiting times, in order to provide services as quickly as possible. This meets one of the principles of effective treatment defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which states that drug abuse treatment should be readily available for those who are ready to seek help.
The Office of Behavioral Health also provides mental health treatment services through the defined districts and authorities.
The following statistics, facts, and references can make it easier to understand the state of drug abuse, addiction, and treatment in Louisiana, as well as the effects of drug abuse on various aspects of life in the state. This includes information on:
- Numbers of treatment centers
- Rates of drug use and mental illness in the state
- Effects of drug use on death and crime rates in the state
- Louisiana’s laws affecting drug use and treatment
The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services indicates that Louisiana has about 150 treatment centers throughout the state. This includes:
- Private, nonprofit: 56
- Private, for-profit: 40
- Local, county, or community government-run: 13
- State government-run: 34
- Federal government-run: 5 (3 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and 2 by the Department of Defense)
- Tribal government-run: 2
The state has the highest percentage of state-run facilities compared to the total number of facilities in the state, at nearly 23 percent. This is because of the commitment of the Office of Behavioral Health to providing treatment as quickly as possible.
Based on the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, rates of illicit drug use in Louisiana are lower than the national average, and lower than many of the other states in the southern region of the US. Some of the comparisons include:
- Illicit drug use: US average – 9.77 percent; Louisiana – 8.55 percent
- Marijuana use: US average – 7.96 percent; Louisiana – 6.11 percent
- Alcohol use: US average – 52.42 percent; Louisiana – 49.13 percent
On the other hand, Louisiana has a higher than average issue with prescription drug abuse, and also a higher than average problem with dependence on illicit drugs.
- Nonmedical use of pain relievers: US average – 06 percent; Louisiana – 4.69 percent
- Illicit drug dependence or abuse: US average – 2.64 percent; Louisiana – 2.95 percent
The problem with prescription drug abuse is growing, and it contributes to higher uses of heroin as well. Louisiana has seen heroin use of epidemic proportions, similar to those of various New England states. For this reason, treatment for these issues is particularly important in the state. However, nationally, only a small percentage of people who are dealing with a substance abuse disorder get help; there’s no doubt that this problem affects Louisiana as well.
Effects of Drug Use on Death and Crime Rates
The bigger issue in Louisiana is that the state has one of the higher rates in the country of death due to drug overdose. A report from the Shreveport Times states that 13.2 people out of every 100,000 in the state die due to drug overdose. Much of this is related to abuse of prescription drugs.The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University reported that Louisiana has a high crime rate based on heroin use, cautioning that this is strongly based on Louisiana’s laws against heroin possession and use. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that heroin use is a major issue in the state and contributes to the state’s extremely high crime and incarceration rates.
Louisiana Drug Laws
In an effort to combat the problem with prescription drug abuse, the state has laws about how people can get prescription medications. According to the Shreveport Times article, these include making sure that patients cannot withhold information about previous prescriptions from doctors, making sure doctors examine or have a relationship with a patient before prescribing anything, and requiring pharmacists to see identification before dispensing medicines.However, the article also states that Louisiana has no Good Samaritan or Rescue Drug laws to enable people to use lifesaving medicines like naloxone in case of an overdose of heroin or other opiates.
Credentials and Licensing for Treatment in Louisiana
Behavioral treatment facilities in Louisiana are certified by the Office of Behavioral Health. Centers certified by the state have consistent licensing standards whether they provide mental health services or addiction treatment.
On the other hand, individual addiction treatment and prevention counselors and other professionals are licensed by the Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority.
Both of these organizations seek to make sure that treatment is research-based and demonstrates evidence of the ability to provide positive outcomes.
Drug Treatment and Support Organizations and References
There are some additional nonprofit and government treatment resources available in Louisiana, including:
- The Agape Center listing of drug treatment programs for local areas in Louisiana
- The Louisiana Behavioral Health Advisory Council for policy planning
- Listing of the Louisiana state districts and authorities that provide behavioral health services
- The Louisiana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
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