Washington Parish Faces Potential Opioid Use Increase due to COVID-19

Stephen Marcantel


Photo taken from Wikipedia, courtesy of Z28scrambler

The new coronavirus’s economic impacts may increase opioid usage in Washington Parish.

Washington Parish, a parish with the highest opioid-involved death rate in Louisiana and high prescription opioid rate, may be see an increase in opioid usage due to COVID-19’s economic ramifications, according to Executive Director Richard Kramer of Florida Parishes Human Services Authority.

Washington Parish has a depressed economy and lack of job options, said Kramer. The limited resources of Washington Parish are going to be stretched even further due to COVID-19, said Kramer.

“People are more likely to have more reason to be hopeless or turn to substances than before,” said Kramer. 

Executive Director Thomas “Rusty” Fornea at ADAPT, Inc. said the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 can increase opioid usage in the parish. People are stuck at home with nothing to do, said Fornea.

Louisiana and Washington Parish have seen an increase in opioid-involved deaths over the years. Louisiana had 455 opioid-involved deaths in 2018, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Washington Parish accounted for 26 of those deaths. Opioid-involved deaths include opioid poisoning and deaths where opioids contributed to the death, according to the LDH.

a line graph which shows the opioid involved deaths in Louisiana increasing from 2012 to 2018
A map which shows the opioid involved deaths in Louisiana in 2018. Many sections have no opioid involved deaths but some sections have as much as 100 to 140 deaths.

High prescription rates are correlated with higher opioid deaths and use, said Kramer. Some people become addicted to opioid through prescriptions. With it harder to get prescription opioids, people may turn to illegal opioids, said Kramer.

A line graph of the opioid prescriptions in louisiana compared to the United States from 2006 to 2018. Louisiana holds higher numbers than the United States and Washington parish rests above both of them.
A map which shows the opioid prescriptions in Louisiana in 2018. Numbers range from 80 to 140 prescriptions throughout the state

Overall, the U.S., Louisiana and Washington Parish have seen a decrease in opioid prescription rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Louisiana’s and Washington Parish’s rates were higher than the national average in 2018.

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