NEW ORLEANS - As the state continues to battle an addiction crisis, there could be a bright light in New Orleans East. A new detox center is opening up and will offer addiction treatment for people across the south, helping to combat an epidemic. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50.
"It's deadly, it's huge," Townsend CEO Natashia Cheatham said. "More people die from addiction than from car accidents."
A new detox center in New Orleans is working to change that. In a few weeks Townsend will open a 36-bed detox and stabilization unit in the New Orleans East hospital. The center helps clear a hurdle many seeking treatment encounter. Some insurance companies only cover detox programs that are in hospitals. However, even those without insurance can still use Townsend services.
"We have ways of working with anyone who wants to get help, we do not turn anyone away," Cheatham said.
Detox programs like this one are on the front lines in fighting a disease that the DEA says is rapidly spreading across the country.
"We find ourselves in this heroin epidemic that I've never seen before in my 30-year career with law enforcement," Special Agent in Charge, Stephen Azzam, for the New Orleans Field Division of the DEA said back in September.
Townsend believes understanding addiction is the first step to treating it.
"It's a biological brain illness, it's not an ethical or moral issue," Cheatham said. She thinks changing perceptions of what causes addiction will decrease its stigma.
"There's so much shame and so much guilt attached to just reaching out," Cheatham said.
But taking that first step and getting help can be life altering.
"People from every walk of life come and shed the shame, shed the guilt and really we give them their lives back," Cheatham said.
The detox center will open October 23. More information about the services offered can be found here: https://townsendla.com/
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