How the Opioid Epidemic is impacting Southeast Louisiana


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — While the coronavirus pandemic has been on the forefront of Americans minds, the drug epidemic isn’t slowing down.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from May 2020 to April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans have died from an overdose. More than 75% of these overdoses are from opioids.

“During covid, you know, everybody was isolating, and isolating is kind of the enemy of recovery,” said Kevin Gardere, Executive Director of Development at Bridge House Grace House, an addiction recovery center in New Orleans.

Gardere says he’s seen opioid addictions skyrocket locally over the last several years.

“Almost 50% of the people we treat, and we treat over 750 people a year, identify opiates as their drug of choice. That’s the highest percentage we’ve had in years,” said Gardere.

Gardere says overdose deaths in Orleans Parish aren’t slowing down.

“It’s killing people. In 2020, Orleans Parish had 365 overdose deaths. That’s a 5% increase from 2019,” said Gardere.

The CDC reports that synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are the deadliest, making up 64% of all fatal overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021.

Gardere says in order to fight the opioid epidemic, we need to get rid of the stigma because addiction doesn’t discriminate.

“Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. You know, it’s life or death,”

More than 1,900 Louisianans died from an overdose last year. State leaders like Senator Bill Cassidy have been pushing for more federal support to help manage addiction across the state.

For more information on Bridge House Grace House, visit

For more on opioid addiction and recovery, visit

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