Troubling Trend Shows Heroin Use On The Rise In St. Tammany, Jefferson & Orleans Parish

heroin

In Southeast Louisiana heroin use is a growing problem. WGNO News Anchor Vanessa Bolano tracks the troubling trend on both sides of the lake and speaks with former addicts who describe the struggle.

Nearly every night the New Orleans Mission is home to 200 men and women. Licensed Addictions Counselor Prescola Williamson says virtually everyone has dealt with drug addiction.

“When you are addicted it is a problem you have to stay with. If you don’t stay with it then you will fall back. I don’t care how long you have been using and how long you have stayed clean, you have to stay with the program,” says Williamson.

Drug use is a problem that doesn’t appear to be getting better. In Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes heroin related deaths are on the rise. The figures from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals are startling. The numbers have more than tripled in the last few years.

NUMBER OF HEROIN RELATED DEATHS, BY PARISH OF RESIDENCE:LOUISIANA, 2008-2013*

PARISH

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012*

2013*

JEFFERSON

5

6

7

9

23

30

ORLEANS

< 5

0

< 5

0

6

19

ST TAMMANY

< 5

< 5

< 5

5

12

16

* 2012 & 2013 data are preliminary
Numbers < 5 are suppressed to release the confidentiality of the records

53-year-old Johann Arnold says, “The individuals that get into that particular drug are people who have just totally given up on a whole lot and feel as though they can’t find a better way out of a situation.”

Arnold is now clean, but he knows first-hand about the demand for heroin on the streets.

“Once in a while I think about doing pills, but I decide I can’t because I like and love what I am doing right now,” says 56-year-old Candi Johnson.

Johnson’s drug of choice was crack cocaine. Now she helps out at The New Orleans Mission.

Counselor Williamson says most of those at the Mission are proof if there is a will, you can conquer addiction. She says if you suspect someone is using help that person find help, do not turn them away. She says most drug abusers start using when they mingle with the wrong crowd.