NEW ORLEANS -- We're getting the latest numbers on how serious the drug addiction and opioid crisis is in this area.
But the group of community leaders and parents trying to solve the epidemic, say one parish is hurting the efforts to move forward.
The Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition is sounding the alarm about addiction. Recent surveys of 10th graders show:
- 12 percent are binge drinkers
- 12 percent have been high or drunk in school in the last year
- 11 percent have used pot at least once in the last month
- 5 percent have sold drugs
- 4 percent have used opioids
It is estimated that 2,500 10th graders have serious substance use disorders and 5,000 more are at risk and need intervention.
"Really trying to wake this city up, because it's such a serious problem. We don't think the community is taking it as seriously as it needs to," said Stephanie Haynes, President of GNODDRC.
But more upsetting to the volunteer group is that these data mostly come from Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, because Orleans Parish school students never were given the survey kits this year.
"To get a zero in 2016 is embarrassing. It's a loss of money as well as a loss of opportunity," Haynes said.
"This is not acceptable and we should be doing a better job and Orleans should be the star of the gulf coast. It should be a leader," said Bob Gallati a Data Consultant working with GNODDRC.
Federal money comes to the state and it is used to gather data, so grant money and programs can target communities and adolescents in need, but this could be in jeopardy now. It is unclear how much of the $400,000 earmarked for the statewide survey was wasted in Orleans.
"I've been to four funerals of students I've taught, one a Green Beret," said Seton Smith Jenkins, Program Director of the Drug Free Community Support Program Award. "We need to as a community come together, start shouting, start screaming, start banding together."
We reached out to the Metropolitan Human Services District about what happened to the Orleans Parish surveys, but have not gotten an answer.
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