Opioid awareness comes to campus

In response to opioid addiction, the University Counseling Center hosted an event to raise awareness about the topic. The video "Chasing the Dragon" featured the lives of people affected by opioid addiction. Jennifer Dettwiller/The Lion's Roar

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the University Counseling Center hosted an opioid awareness event in the Student Union Theater.

This event featured “Chasing the Dragon,” a video filled with people whose lives have been affected by the downfall of family or friends who are opioid users.

According to DEA Special Agent George Cazenavette, an opioid is a drug which is derived from the opium poppy, but there are also types of synthetic opioids that are made in a laboratory setting.

Cazenavette described what the film was about and its effects on other students who have seen it in the past.

“The screening of ‘Chasing the Dragon,’ which is a video that was produced by the FBI and DEA, chronicles the opioid addiction of several individuals and will give insight into how these addictions start and the tragedies that sometimes result from them,” said Cazenavette.

He has shown this video to high schools and other colleges already and is hoping to be invited to other high schools with the growth of opiate usage. He has reached out to Louisiana Tech University and Tulane University.

“It’s touched a number of them because most individuals, whether it’s first-hand or second-hand, have a loved one, whether it be a friend or family member, that is affected by this,” said Cazenavette. “The video gives them insight into what these individuals may be suffering with that they don’t know, they just know they have a problem, but they don’t know what all that entails. Oftentimes, some become emotional because they realize they have a brother or sister that is stricken with this, and it kind of brings it home for them.”

He further explained why it is important for students to understand the dangers of the information they may learn from the video.

“It’s an educational video, which coincides with the opioid epidemic we are experiencing here in southeast Louisiana, as in many other parts of the country," said Cazenavette.

Mental Health Counselor for the University Counseling Center Annette Newton-Baldwin reasons why now would be the time to bring preventative measures and opioid awareness to the university’s campus.

“I actually went to a conference this summer and they were talking about the death rate in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which I know is super close to where we are,” said Newton-Baldwin. “So, I thought it was time to start doing some prevention here.”

Student attendee Kaylan Harding attended for her Drug and Social class, and left the event with information that she feels people need to be made aware of.

“Heroin is a major problem in the United States, and that more people should be aware of what heroin consists of,” said Harding. “As younger adults, and being older, we need to be aware because our generation is now getting younger and younger and heroin is overruling us.”