Community meeting focuses on fentanyl problem

Published 2:06 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office hosted a community meeting about the fentanyl epidemic on Friday in recognition of National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

The meeting was held so that community members could learn more about the community resources for addiction recovery and rehabilitation, and how the DA’s office handles fentanyl cases. District Attorney Stephen Dwight, Project Trey Founder Tonya Doucette and fentanyl overdose survivor Pierce Breaux spoke at the event.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, but many recent cases of fentanyl-related overdoses are connected to illicitly manufactured fentanyl that is distributed through illegal drug markets, according to the DA’s office.

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Because of it’s extreme potency, Fentanyl is often added to other drugs to make them cheaper, and more powerful and addictive.

More than 150 people die of overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl a day. Dwight said that nearly 100 people die of overdoses in Calcasieu Parish each year, and a majority of those are connected to fentanyl. He deemed the increase in fentanyl-related deaths the “next evolution of the opioid crisis.”

Often, these deaths are not a result of purposeful and regular drug use. People can be exposed to fentanyl in pills that look like prescription or over-the-counter drugs like Adderal, Percocet, and Tylenol. Minors can also be targeted with fentanyl-laced candies, gummies and vitamins, he explained.

Project Trey is an advocacy organization that offers resources for those suffering from addictive disorder and their families. It was formed by Doucette following the death of her 21-year-old son Trey, who overdosed on a fentanyl-laced pill.

Trey was an addict who was 15 months sober at the time of his death. Doucette said that the night that he passed, he took what he thought was a pain pill so that he would feel healthy for the first day of his new job.

Breaux faced a similar story. On May 5, 2023, he got pills from a dealer that he bought from regularly. One of the pills was laced with Fentanyl, and he was rushed to the emergency room after exhibiting symptoms of overdose.

Common signs of overdose include small, constricted “pinpoint pupils,” falling asleep or losing consciousness, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, slow, weak or no breathing and cold, clammy and/or discolored skin.

He is now one year sober. After his overdose, he checked back into a rehabilitation center.

“It was genuinely the best day of my life and the best thing that could have happened to me because now I know exactly why God put me through all those things. … I can be the voice of the people that can’t be here who unfortunately lost their lives to a very sick epidemic.”

Dwight said that the DA’s Office is shifting focus to make the fentanyl epidemic more visible. In March, he announced the new fentanyl awareness and education program called One Life at a Time. This program will focus on fentanyl education and awareness.

He also announced that the Calcasieu Parish Sherriff’s Office Violent Crimes Task Force will soon be housed under the Combined Anti-Drug Team (C.A.T) – a multi-agency narcotics task force. This shift will increase communication between the two task forces to pinpoint criminal activity related to fentanyl overdoses.

This move was made because Dwight is determined to find a way to more severely persecute drug dealers that distribute fentanyl-laced drugs; Communication between the two task forces will make this more possible.

For more information on One Life at a Time, visit or call 337-437-3276.