(KLFY) – Following an increase in fentanyl-related deaths all over Louisiana, the Department of Health is launching a statewide effort to stop the crisis.

Chief Medicolegal Investoagator Keith Talamo told News 10, “In 2021 there were 137 overdoses and 101 of them contained fentanyl. Just from January to May 2022 there were 82 overdose deaths containing fentanyl.”

Overdoses are now the leading cause of death for ages 18 to 45, surpassing cardiovascular disease.

Regional Medical Director Tina Stefanski told News 10 that this is due to increased fentanyl production and easy accessibility of counterfeit drugs.

“The drug landscape has changed, now kids have very easy access to drugs through social media. So you might have a kid or a child thinking they’re getting Adderall or Xanax ordered online and getting shipped to them at home, and we see that a great number of those are fake pills and 4 out of every 10 of these counterfeit pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl,” Stefanski said.

While spreading the message to children and families to prevent drug consumption, the Department of Health has also utilized Narcan, which is a nasal spray that temporarily stops the effects of opioids and gives more time for medical attention.

“We have been able to supply close to 2000 doses of Narcan to law enforcement, fire officials, and fire departments across our 7 parish region,” said Stacy Conrad of the Department of Health.

Talamo also added that “After giving Narcan out, from June to July, Lafayette only had 17 overdoses containing fentanyl, that number went down greatly.”