REPORT: Lafayette Parish saw increase in overdose deaths in 2020

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FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. In a resumption of a brutal trend, nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new record high that predates the COVID-19 crisis. The numbers were driven by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which accounted for 36,500 overdose deaths. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

Fueled in part by a pandemic that left people isolated, overdose deaths in Lafayette Parish — and the rest of the state — skyrocketed in 2020 as compared to the previous year. 

In Lafayette Parish, there was a 51% increase in accidental overdose deaths last year, according to data from the coroner’s office.

There were 55 people who reportedly died from a drug overdose in 2019 and there were 83 people who died in 2020. 

Most deaths — 55 of them — were caused by a polydrug overdose. Of those deaths, 24 people had both fentanyl and methamphetamine in their system, according to data from the Lafayette Parish Coroner’s Office. 

Although overdose deaths have risen virtually every year since 2017 in Lafayette Parish, last year’s increase was stark.

And it’s not a problem isolated to the parish.

Every month starting in March, Louisiana saw an increase in overdose deaths compared to 2019. In March, there were 133 people who died from a drug overdose and there were 85 deaths in 2019. The largest increase in deaths was in May, when 198 people died from a drug overdose in 2020 compared to 104 people in 2019.

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