St. Tammany Coroner Raises Alarm About Overdose Deaths in New Orleans

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 By Sharon Farntrog Medically Reviewed by  Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM 


St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana has been rocked by the news of two tragic overdose deaths early this week. Both an adolescent and young adult – aged 15 and 22 respectively – died on Tuesday night (July 12th, 2022) after ingesting illicit pills which allegedly contained Percocet. The 15-year-old died after taking several pills, while the 22-year-old died from merely one. This tragedy follows a recent trend of rising overdose deaths across America, specifically due to unregulated pills containing a variety of common street drugs.  

Although there is no conclusive evidence as of yet, St. Tammany Coroner Dr. Charles Preston has said that he strongly suspects that the killer drug fentanyl is at play here.  

Learn more about fentanyl

“While we can’t yet conclusively say what caused these deaths, relatively small amounts of Percocet are not typically fatal. I am very concerned that our community may be experiencing illicit drug trade involving intentionally tainted pills,” Preston said in a statement to the press. “The number of overdose cases is escalating rapidly, and we consider this to be a pending health emergency.” 

Fentanyl is an exceptionally powerful prescription painkiller which is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is widely circulated and abused by drug-dealing circles - mainly due to its low price, wide availability, and incredible potency even in tiny amounts. It has been determined by the DEA that 2 milligrams of fentanyl constitutes a fatal dose. As little as four granules of fentanyl can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest, resulting in death.

As of now, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office is making a concerted effort to expedite the toxicology tests conducted on all drugs and suspected substances recovered from both scenes, to better determine what exactly occurred on that fateful night. 

Dr. Preston reiterated that even a single pill can be fatal when laced with fentanyl or other drugs. “We constantly repeat the mantra ‘One Pill Can Kill’, and it’s really no exaggeration,” he said. “For those battling addiction or using illicit drugs, now is the time to seek help. With increasing evidence of altered prescriptions being peddled, this is no time to take chances with your life.” 

America’s opioid epidemic rages more fiercely than ever, with the number of victims increasing by the day. It does not discriminate; no age, race or demographic has been spared its reach. Now more than ever, it is critical to continue educating, spreading awareness, and providing stellar treatment to those in the throes of addiction – a mission which Avenues Recovery continues to fulfill each day.


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