BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– The Drug Enforcement Administration, New Orleans Field Division, held a summit about families who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to illicit substances or have a loved one currently suffering from substance use disorder.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad Byerley said, “Drug-related deaths are plaguing the nation,
including here in the state of Louisiana, and killing Americans at record rates. Last year alone,
nearly 108,000 lives were lost to a drug overdose, with fentanyl and methamphetamine driving
this record increase
Pamala Rivas is a mother from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who lost three of her children to drug overdoses.
Rives says, “My heart was shattered, my life was completely turned upside down.”
Rivas had three children named Shawn David, Danielle Marie, and Matthew Stephen and they all died from drug overdoses. Rivas lost her oldest son to an overdose of methadone, then lost two children just three weeks apart to Fentanyl.
Rives says that her son who died from fentanyl use, “had 120 milligrams in his systems and two milligrams is deadly.”
Rivas and other mothers in Louisiana like Lili Harvey and Tonya Doucette, are all mothers who have been touched by how deadly these drugs can be.
Doucette says her son Trey died the first time he tried an opioid. Doucette explains that the day prior to the incident, they have gone shopping for his new job.
As she walked into his bedroom, she says that “he just looked like he was sleeping”, she turned his body over, seeing that Trey passed away in his sleep. Doucette says that they “later found out that he had taken one pill and it was full of fentanyl.”
The mothers have been working in the community building relationships and non-profits.
Tonya Doucette created and named a non-profit after her son.
Doucette called it Project Trey.
Another non-profit was created by an advocate named Lili Harvey.
Harvey named her organization Milli Mattered, after her daughter who died of a drug overdose.
Harvey says that “Millie was so beautiful and very attentive.” she added that “people used to say that she was Marilyn Monroe beautiful.”
After Harvey found out the news about her daughter passing she says, “I felt like I was alone when it first happened to me.”
Harvey has been advocating for new laws in Louisiana after Millie’s death 5 years ago. She was successful in creating one law called, Millie’s Law.
To view more information about the drug overdose epidemic, click here.