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Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Orleans Parish Coroner host event at Loyola University New Orleans during National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week

Loyola press release - September 12, 2016

Movie screening and panel talk shed light on national and local crisis surrounding heroin and prescription drug abuse.

In an effort to raise awareness of the ongoing national crisis of heroin and prescription drug abuse, United States Attorney Kenneth Polite, joined by Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey C. Rouse, as well as representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will help to launch Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week this month with a film screening and panel discussion held at Loyola University New Orleans. The two-hour event includes a film screening of “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict,” a film featuring families affected by this national crisis, and will be followed by a panel talk and reception. On hand to tell her story will be a local resident.

“Nationwide, heroin and prescription drug abuse are on the rise, and as a community, we are responsible for educating our young people and their families about this threat, which does not discriminate,” said Loyola University New Orleans Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. M.L. “Cissy” Petty. “This growing crisis knows no boundaries. It impacts all kinds of individuals and families, and it is our hope at Loyola University New Orleans that by creating and raising awareness, we will help both to protect and to save lives.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19 in Loyola’s Nunemaker Auditorium in Monroe Hall, Loyola University New Orleans, 6363 St. Charles Ave. Free parking is available in the university’s West Road garage.

“Chasing the Dragon” is a 45-minute documentary film that profiles the stories of several people who either abused opiates or had family members become addicts. It profiles the cycle of addiction and looks at the tragic consequences associated with opioid abuse. The documentary also features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals discussing the effects of the addiction, and how this epidemic is unlike any this country has seen before.

The raw and moving 45-minute film, a product of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, is designed to educate high school and college students, young adults and their families about the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse—and the dangers of the addiction.

Polite, who has witnessed up close the effects this crisis can have on individuals and families, will serve as keynote speaker. Joining the panel will be Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, Orleans Parish Coroner; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Stephen G. Azzam, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Orleans Field Division; and an area resident who recently lost her child to heroin addiction.

“In Southeast Louisiana, opioid-related overdose deaths have skyrocketed in the past few years,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite stated. “In 2015 alone, Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany Parishes collectively suffered 127 heroin overdose deaths. By comparison, in 2009, there were 10 such fatalities statewide. I thank our law enforcement partners, the Coroner’s Office, and especially Loyola University for their collective commitment to bringing greater awareness to this public health epidemic.”

The opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic has swept through the country. Statistics show that overdose deaths from heroin abuse have more than doubled since 2010. More people die each year from drug overdoses than die in car accidents. Because an opioid addiction can take hold after the first use, it is hoped that this film will help generate discussions that will lead to a greater understanding of the dangers of the addiction, its impact on both the victims and their loved ones, and the often deadly consequences of opioid abuse.

“DEA remains committed to raising public awareness about the dangers of prescription drug and heroin abuse and removing these harmful substances off the streets. We will continue to hold drug traffickers accountable while at the same time educating the public about opiate addiction and how it destroys lives,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam stated. “We must continue to find new and innovative ways to address the growing addiction to these opioids, and the violent trafficking it produces. This film is an excellent resource and we hope that by spreading the word about this shocking epidemic, lives will be saved.”

“Unfortunately, many Americans and their families have been negatively impacted by the scourge of opiates, or other drugs, within their community,” FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet stated. “The FBI New Orleans Division is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and will devote all available resources to combating this epidemic.”

“The Greater New Orleans Area is no exception to our nationwide epidemic of opiate abuse,” Dr. Jeffrey C. Rouse, Orleans Parish Coroner stated. “Already, in the first half of 2016, New Orleans has seen more opiate overdose deaths than in all of the entire year of 2015. I urge the community to attend this film and forum to educate themselves on the realities of the brain disease of opiate addiction. The deadly power of illicit opiates can only be defeated with greater awareness."

See the trailer.

See the film.

Editors’ Note:

The FBI and DEA are offering the film to educators at no cost for incorporation into their curriculum. In an effort to stimulate discussion in schools, the film comes with a corresponding study guide meant to assist teachers presenting the film in the classroom. Those wishing to obtain a copy of the film may do so by contacting their local FBI or DEA field office or by downloading the film for free at www.FBI.Gov/Chasingthedragon.