Lafayette Parish once again saw a steep increase in opioid-related overdoses last year, with the majority of those cases involving fentanyl.
There were a total of 136 fatal overdoses in 2021, according to numbers recently finalized by the Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office. Of those, 122 were opioid-related, and 102 involved the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Drug overdose deaths have increased sharply in Lafayette Parish each year since 2017. The deaths have been primarily attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, with stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine also contributing to multiple overdoses per year.
Fatal overdoses have increased by 216% since 2017 in Lafayette Parish, according to the coroner's data. Fatal overdoses involving opioids have increased by 388% during the same five-year period. The coroner's office recorded more than 20 times as many drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2021 than it did in 2017.
The coroner's office recorded just 46 drug overdose deaths in 2017 in Lafayette Parish. Of those, 25 involved opioids, and five of those involved fentanyl.
What is happening locally is part of a larger statewide and national trend.
Annual drug overdose deaths recently topped 100,000 in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in November 2021. About 75% of those overdose deaths were attributed to opioids.
Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant that include illegal drugs such as heroin, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Although fentanyl can be prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, it is often illicitly manufactured and added to other drugs because of its extreme potency. It makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive and more dangerous, according to the CDC.
Those in need can contact 337-232-HELP to learn more about local treatment resources.