This section gives basic information regarding opioids and the opioid epidemic. For more information, please visit the links below. For services in East Baton Rouge, please visit our Resource Database here.


Overdoses in East Baton Rouge Parish 

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
86* 311 242 126 102 111

*86 as of 4/25/2022 with more cases pending toxicology test results

Source: EBR Coroner Office


What are Opioids?

Opioids are a broad group of pain-relieving drugs that work by sending signals to the brain and body to block pain. Doctors typically prescribe them to treat moderate to serve pain. In addition to treating pain, opioids can make some people feel relaxed, happy, or "high" and can be addictive. In addition to being addictive, there are other risks if these drugs are not used correctly.​

Types of Opioids

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common opioids are: 

  • Prescription Opioids: Prescription opioids can be prescribed by doctors to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury or for health conditions such as cancer. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids to treat chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.  Prescription opioids also have serious risks and side effects. Common prescription opioids are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone. 

  • Fentanyl: Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges and can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the United States. However, most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects. 

  • Heroin: Heroin is an illegal opioid that is highly addictive. Nearly 40 people die every day from an overdose death involving heroin in the United States. Heroin is typically injected but is also smoked and snorted. When people inject heroin, they are at risk of serious, long-term viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B and bacterial infections of the skin, bloodstream, and heart.


Treating Opioid Addiction

Many people who suffer from addictive disorders go to hospital emergency rooms because they’re in crisis. Most hospitals provide an evaluation and assess the patient’s primary needs and then connect them to treatment that best addresses their unique needs. Many general hospitals don’t admit patients solely for withdrawal or substance abuse treatment unless other significant medical problems present. Treatment for substance use disorders can be best treated through outpatient or inpatient programs. Many of these programs use medications to help patients transition from physical dependence on opioids, also known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Three common medications used are:

  • Methadone: Methadone can only be given in a certified opioid treatment setting and is commonly administered in addition to counseling. The medication helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and address cravings. 

  • Buprenorphine: Similar to Methadone, Buprenorphine relieves opioid cravings without giving the same high as other opioid drugs. A physician can prescribe buprenorphine from an office setting. It can be administered by a daily tablet that dissolves when placed under the tongue, a once-a-month injection, or through thin tubes inserted under the skin and last six months.  

These medicines suppress cravings and are practical and similar in safety and side effects, and are typically used for maintenance treatment (treatment for people who are in recovery but want to prevent a relapse. They also can be used to support gradually coming off using opioids. However, it is common for patients to relapse using these prescriptions, and physicians must try something different for patients who relapse several times. Patients who are highly motivated and have good social support tend to do better with these therapies. 

  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone is a very different medicine and doesn’t suppress cravings but instead blocks the euphoric (high)/sedative(slow) effects of opioids. A patient’s system must be completely free of all opioids (at least 7-10 days) before beginning naltrexone. It can be taken orally or as a once-a-month injection.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine


SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information. You can also visit the online treatment locator.


Capital Area Human Services: If you or someone you know has a problem with opioids (heroin or prescription pain medications), there is help available.  Capital Area Human Services provides screening, assessment, and referral to detox and medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid dependence.  Capital Area Human Services also provides a Vivitrol maintenance program, which includes medication and therapy as effective tools for preventing relapse in individuals who have stopped abusing opioids.  Call (225) 925-1906 or click here for more information. 


Bridge Center: The Bridge Center for Hope is an adult crisis receiving center that provides services to individuals 18 and older residing in East Baton Rouge Parish. The center will provide services 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Regardless of income or insurance, at The Bridge Center for Hope no one is turned away.  Anyone experiencing a crisis is welcomed, whether they walk in on their own, escorted by loved ones, referred by a provider agency, or transferred by first responders or law enforcement.

  • Must be a resident of East Baton Rouge Parish

  • Must be 18 years or order

  • Center-based Respite is the only unit where a guest must be referred by a provider agency or hospital.


History of the Opioid Epidemic 

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers. As a result, healthcare providers began to prescribe opioids at greater rates. An increase in prescription opioids led to widespread misuse of prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could be highly addictive. In 2017 the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis.


Find Healthy Resources Near You

Upcoming Classes & Events