WATCH: State of Addiction -What every family should know about opioids

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) –As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic is alive and thriving. On April 23, 2021 we had a candid conversation about opioids and how they can change a persons life.

We heard from state and local representatives as well as loved ones and people in recovery.

Afterwards viewers tuned as the conversation continued on Facebook.

Digital Opioid Special

National Drug Take Back Day

National Drug Take Back Day is happening this Saturday, April 24th. It’s a day where you can drop off all unwanted prescription drugs. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019. The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. For more information on National Drug Take Back Day and where you can find a list of drop off locations head over to or click here.

Arielle’s Choice

Arielle Butler is a 32-year-old single mother of two residing in Zachary, Louisiana. She is the Founder of Arielle’s Choice, a non-profit organization designed to help opiate addicts/recovering addicts find and connect with other organizations and groups to help with health care, food, employment, clothing, and housing. The organization was created because of Arielle’s 11-year struggle with opioid addiction which at one time consumed her life. Today, she shares her story of hope, recovery, relapse, and victory.

Hard Knocks is Arielle’s personal blog that she’s had through her addiction as well as her recovery. Her hope is to bring transparency through her eyes of addiction. She shares her struggles as well as her triumphs. Click here to read.

Elev8 Treatment Center

Addiction can affect anyone, and no one knows that more than those who operate treatment centers. 

ELEV8 Treatment and Legacy Center takes a different approach from other centers that take a more aggressive approach. Co-founder Wes Pope says that approaching treatment with love has proven to be successful. “We feel that people in this that are in the midst of their addiction truly have a need for love. They haven’t been loved, they’ve put themselves through depths of despair that a lot of us really have never seen. In order to build somebody back up, you have to love them,” Pope says. 

Another approach the center takes is having people who have recovered themselves helping people through treatment. Admissions Director and Co-founder Ronnie LeDuff says, “I was a severe heroin addict for six years. I’ve done multiple years in the penitentiary. I’ve neglected my kids. I’ve been a horrible brother. I’ve been a horrible son. I’ve had six suicide attempts. I’ve had five overdoses. My latest suicide attempt was April 11, 2019. Two days later, after making a covenant with God, the doors of a treatment facility was open to me and I haven’t looked back since. Since elevate has open, it’s only grown me more spiritually than ever before.” 

He is not the only one. Co-founder Michael Oakley says, “When I got sober in March of 2016, I found my way into the field and just had a passion for helping people and wanted to create something that helped the community that helped raise me.”

The face of addiction is different than what most people expect. It can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. 

Clinical Director, Jennifer Rush, explains two ways to look at addiction. “When you look at addiction, it’s the medical side and the clinical side. So the medical side, a lot of times, you’re going to look at that chemical dependency where that body seriously craves a substance, and a lot of times it’s talked about in the brain because of the reward system. You use a substance, it makes you feel good, so you do it over again. It’s a reward system, medically. Clinically, is when it messes you up in a way of emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So it changes the way you think about things, it changes the way you prioritize things, it makes you rethink your values, rethink your morals, and it makes the entire person on the inside change,” Rush says. 

As the Admissions Director, LeDuff handles incoming clients. He meets with new clients to go over a set of pre-assessment questions that cover drug use, family history, medical history, and much more. The center offers several treatment options, so completing this assessment helps the center determine what treatment would work best. 

Treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Rush says, “every single person’s program and treatment is different. Everybody has a different treatment plan based upon what they need.”

Success also looks different for everyone, but Rush says some milestones make her proud. “I’ve been doing this for thirteen years. I recently had a client come back and show me that he just got his four-year chip. It’s moments like that, that make me continue doing my job because unfortunately, we will lose a lot of people in the United States to addiction, but we will also save people,” Rush says. 

For more information on the ELEV8 Treatment and Legacy Center, visit their website HERE

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