BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Local leaders and advocates organized an event to hand out resources to help fight substance abuse and mental health on Saturday, Jan. 28.
CEO of Set Free Indeed Ministry, Tonja Myles, is the main organizer for “Sober Saturday” with the help of other local organizations. Myles has been a recovering addict for over 30 years and knows the struggles that addicts face on a daily basis.
“I want to normalize when people think about a person who’s in recovery,” says Myles. “Or a person who has a mental health diagnosis.”
Through the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office working with local law enforcement, they are gathering reports, identifying areas with high drug trafficking.
According to an employee of the EBR District Attorney’s Office, Jon Daily, he says the areas that are more prevalent in using drugs are known as ‘hotspots’.
Tonja Myles and local leaders were spread out to eight different hotspots throughout the parish and handed out free resources like Fentanyl strips and Narcan.
“Most of the overdoses are accidental,” says Daily. “The importance of a fentanyl strip is to detect if there is any on the drug itself.” Daily also acknowledges how many users think they are getting a certain drug, without ever thinking twice.
Daily says the DA’s office has found a three percent decrease in total fatal overdoses in 2022. However, For the first time in EBR Parish history, the black population accounted for the majority of overdoses. They also found a significant increase in fentanyl overdoses for white women from the ages of 18 to 25.
“So numbers-wise, we’re still well over 300 fatal overdoses,” says Daily.
The Bridge Center for Hope is a 24-hour crisis center, to help those in the area who may be struggling with mental and substance abuse.