The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans presented its Fourth Annual Carnivale this past weekend. Executive Chef Greg Sonnier of Kingfish treated CADA party patrons to a savory culinary presentation.

The soiree took place at the stunning Uptown home of Paul and Donna Flower who pulled out all of the stops to ensure that guests enjoyed this party with a grand purpose. From the foot-stomping performance by members of Gulf Coast Theatre on Tap to the army of volunteers led by event chairs Kimberly Fontenot and Marie Chrisholm, the evening could not have been more perfect.

CADA’s Executive Director Joyce Bracey oversees the nonprofit organization that is charged with the monumental task of educating our community on substance abuse prevention and working with the schools and court system on intervention programs and treatment options. I asked Bracey to share some of the challenges she faces working in a city where overindulgence is ingrained into the fabric of the culture.

“New Orleans is great city where life is celebrated each and every day, but our city is no different than any other U.S. city where addiction is concerned. One in 10 Americans has been impacted by addiction whether it be personally, knowing someone who may be suffering from the disease or caring for someone with substance abuse issues.”

The litmus test for addiction is can you do without that drink or medication. If you can’t do without, then chances are you may need help.

According to Bracey, addiction is on the rise in two major categories: prescription medication abuse is a serious issue nationwide, and the rise in adolescent addiction through marijuana use. In fact, today, cannabis is the teenager’s number one drug of choice. CADA’s mission is to educate our youth and to empower our students to say “NO” to drugs.

Another vital area where CADA is making a difference is through the re-entry program that mentors and supports “returning citizens.” This focus is nearest and dearest to Bracey’s heart.

The Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction works directly with the court system to mentor and support citizens who have been released from incarnation. The program offers help with securing employment, linking returning citizens to health care centers that help addicts stay drug-free and the program also provides emotional support during the high-risk period of re-entry. The primary objective is to break the cycle of recidivism.

The disease of substance abuse affects all ages, cultural backgrounds and social-economic levels. CADA of Greater New Orleans, a United Way Partner Agency, is committed to eradicating chemical dependency in our community. To learn more about their services and to support them in their efforts, please visit www.cadogno.org.

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The New Orleans Advocates Crescent City news section. For coverage of your community event in Vie, please submit coverage request with details in advance to robertagrove@hotmail.com.