Prescription drug abuse, heroin deaths on the rise in Baton Rouge

    Prescription drug abuse is an increasingly serious problem across the U.S., and Baton Rouge is no exception, according to Terry Davis, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Baton Rouge office. What’s more, prescription drug abuse is leading directly to more usage of heroin, which is less expensive and easier to come by, Davis said in a speech to  Rotary Club of Baton Rouge this afternoon.

    “It used to be you had to go down to New Orleans to get heroin,” Davis said. “Now you have drug trafficking operations, Mexican and others, who have figured out there is a market here.”

    Statistics suggest the problem has worsened significantly in just the past three years. In 2012, Baton Rouge had five heroin overdose deaths. In 2013, it had 35. In just the first half of 2015, there have been 24.

    What makes the problem particularly lethal in Baton Rouge, according to Davis, is that many of the dealers and users are relative newcomers to the drug.

    “The dealers have never dealt it so they don’t know how to cut it, and the users have never used it before so they don’t know what they are doing,” he said. “That is why you are seeing overdose cases skyrocket.”

    Other troubling trends local DEA officials have spotted in this market are the abuse of cough syrups and the proliferation of fake prescription pills made from heroin. The cough syrups contain promethazine with codeine and are often mixed with alcoholic or other beverages. The fake prescription pills are made from crushed heroin that is pressed into a mold to make it look like a pill.

    “Junkies think they’re getting a good price on prescription drugs,” he says. “In reality, they’re taking heroin and they don’t even know it.”

    —Stephanie Riegel

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