If you live in Louisiana, you’ve probably seen what the drug crisis is doing to the state. In the past five years, deaths from drugs went up 65% in Louisiana. That’s a lot.

There are seven main drugs behind the problem. Here you can learn about the most used drugs in Louisiana and what they do so you can protect your health.


Alcohol isn’t illegal in Louisiana, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t abused. In fact, since it’s so easy to get, it causes a lot of problems for communities. Between 2000 and 2010, it was behind more treatment admissions than any other drug. Almost 40% of people checking into rehab did so for alcohol abuse.

If you want to better understand the Louisiana alcohol problem, take a look at these facts:


Heroin is a powerful opioid that a lot of people abuse. It’s really addictive, and people build resistance fast. That means they have to keep taking more and more to get the same effects. Eventually, this can lead to overdose.

Like most of the country, heroin abuse is going up in Louisiana. In 2011, rehab admissions for heroin grew to over 10% of the total. As you might guess, overdoses are going up too. In 2018, 178 people died from heroin overdoses.

Heroin is easy to get in Louisiana because New Orleans is a big port on the heroin black market. This means people often get addicted to a prescription opioid and then change to heroin because it’s cheaper. That’s dangerous.

Synthetic Opioids

As bad as heroin is for Louisiana’s health, synthetic opioids might be even worse. Deaths from opioids more than doubled from 2012 to 2016.

Fentanyl is one of the biggest problems. In 2018, fentanyl overdoses happened more than heroin overdoses. Plus, fentanyl is cheap, so dealers often cut other drugs with it. It only takes a small amount of fentanyl to overdose, though, and this has added to the crisis.

Here are some more facts about synthetic opioids in Louisiana:

Prescription Opioids

Doctors give opioids to people with really bad injuries. Sometimes, though, people get addicted to these drugs and have to keep taking them after their injuries are better. A lot of times they end up losing money paying for drugs or get in trouble with the police by trying to get them illegally.

In 2016, Louisiana had the fifth highest rate of opioid prescriptions in the country. Doctors prescribed 98.1 prescriptions for every 100 people. That’s 47.5% higher than the national average. Luckily, people are seeing the problem, and the amount of prescriptions is going down.

Other Prescription Drugs

Opioids aren’t the only prescription drugs that Louisianans use. A lot of people get these drugs on the black market or abuse their own prescriptions. Taking these drugs outside of a doctor’s instructions is dangerous. It can even kill you.

For example, in the New Orleans area, benzodiazepines are the second most abused prescription drug after opioids. These are drugs like diazepam and alprazolam. Along with benzos, a lot Lousianans abuse stimulants and steroids, too.


Lately, methamphetamine has been replacing cocaine in small towns. Sometimes it comes from Mexico, or sometimes local people make it in small amounts. Either way, it’s hard to know if it’s safe. That’s why methamphetamines killed more Louisianans in 2017 than any other drug.

Illegal Marijuana

In 2011, more Louisianans checked into rehab for marijuana abuse than any other illegal drug.

Since then, not a lot has changed. Just look at these numbers:

  • In 2013, 3.9% of Louisiana teenagers said they’d used marijuana before.
  • Marijuana in Louisiana became three times stronger from 1995 to 2014.
  • In 2018, 61% of rehab workers said that the rate of marijuana abuse wasn’t changing.

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse in Louisiana

Drugs may be a big problem for Louisiana, but they don’t have to be for you. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, don’t wait to call your nearest treatment center to learn about your options.


  1. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018). Greater New Orleans Situational Drug Report (DEA-NOX-DIR-031-18). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/2016%20Greater%20New%20Orleans%20Situational%20Drug%20Report%20FINAL.pdf
  2. Executive Office of the President of the United States. (n.d.). State Profile – Louisiana. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile-louisiana.pdf
  3. Louisiana Department of Health. (2019). Opioid-Involved Deaths in Louisiana. Retrieved from http://ldh.la.gov/assets/opioid/Opioid_Death_Fact_Sheet_2019.pdf
  4. Louisiana Department of Health. (2019). The Louisiana Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program Action Plan. Retrieved from http://ldh.la.gov/assets/opioid/COAP_Strategic_Plan.pdf
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, May 22). Louisiana Opioid Summary. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/louisiana-opioid-summary
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Barometer: Louisiana, 2014. HHS Publication No. SMA–15–4895LA. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/State_BHBarometers_2014_1/BHBarometer-LA.pdf
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2000-2010. State Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, DASIS Series: S-63, HHS Publication No. SMA-12-4729. Rockville, MD; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012. Retrieved from https://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/dasis2/teds_pubs/2010_teds_rpt_st.pdf
  8. United Health Foundation. (2019). Explore Drug Deaths in Louisiana | 2019 Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/Drugdeaths/state/LA
  9. WBRZ2. (2019, October 25). Fentanyl leads as deadliest drug in U.S., but in Louisiana meth is even deadlier. Retrieved from https://www.wbrz.com/news/fentanyl-leads-as-deadliest-drug-in-u-s-but-in-louisiana-meth-is-even-deadlier/

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