DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD) — Drug overdose deaths are steadily rising in Louisiana, according to a new report by QuoteWizard Lending Tree.

2,535 people died from opioids in Louisiana over the last year, which is a 14 percent increase since 2020. The state has the second-highest death rate in the nation.

Denham Springs mother Monica Gill believes the opioid crisis is destroying families and will only get worse.

“A lot of people say I don’t know anyone who has a drug addiction,” Gill said. “You do. You just don’t know they have a problem or they have this issue. You know someone who is going through addiction or they’re in recovery right now.”

Gill’s son Blair died from painkillers in June 2019. She said he battled addiction for more than 15 years in and out of different treatment centers. Since his death, she has been raising awareness about the growing crisis.

Because of her requests, the lights shine purple every year at the Louisiana State Capitol and governor’s mansion on National Recovery Day, Sept. 30.

Gill encourages families to check on their relatives dealing with addiction, and always answer their phone calls.

“You see your phone ring. You see who it is, and you’re like, ‘Oh.’ I had that feeling a few times when my son called me, and I thought about not answering, but I eventually would. A lot of people say I just didn’t want to go through them begging me for money. You can always say no. Blair told me it was okay for me to tell him no. So, check on that family member and let them know you’re thinking about them or care about them. Just reach out to them. I know my son felt like he was alone,” said Gill.

The Recovery Center of Baton Rouge is a treatment center that helps adults and their families struggling with substance abuse. It’s located at 673 E Airport Ave. The phone number is (225) 927-7475.

The national free helpline for substance abuse is 1-800-662-4357.