Local college hosts documentary, discussion about opioid abuse

Caresse Jackman talks about a panel discussion and movie screen about drug abuse on Loyola University's campus.

NEW ORLEANS – A local university and law enforcement officials took the time to address drug abuse Monday at a forum in a community that’s felt the effects.

Monday marked the beginning of National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week. As part of a series of community events, a movie addressing addiction, and a panel discussion was held at Loyola University.

Two Loyola students have been victims of drug overdoses during the last semester.

The presentation was planned before their deaths, and officials said they wanted to bring attention to the subject to it doesn’t happen again.

Students and faculty watched closely as the documentary "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict" was screened.

For Savannah Kelly hearing about the effects of heroin and opioids is terrifying.

"It made me nervous,” said Kelly, a Loyola freshman. “Because I didn't know them, but I knew that there were people that were close to them, and I'm afraid of losing some of my best friends.”

According to the justice department, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in traffic accidents. More than three out of five of these deaths involve an opioid. For the past few years, the number of people in our state using these deadly drugs has been climbing.

"Locally, we've seen young people as young as 13 die from this particular narcotic," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite. "About 6 years ago, we had 10 Heroin overdose deaths in the State of Louisiana. Last year, we had a total of 127 in just 3 parishes."

Officials said opioid abuse travels affects all different kinds of people.

“This has no boundaries,” said Stephen Azzam, DEA special agent. “You can be affluent; you can be poor. It is hitting every community in the nation today."

That's why law enforcement said it's so important people understand why addiction is so powerful and dangerous, especially for youths.

"It'll affect you for the rest of your life! And you can be even kicked out of the college of your dream that you applied to and got into, because of one silly, stupid mistake," said Kelly.

(© 2016 WWL)


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