According to the Louisiana Drug Control Update released each year by the White House, the state's drug-induced death rate is much higher than the national average. 862 deaths were recorded in 2008, nearly rivaling the year's total of motor vehicle related deaths.

Known for its blues, cuisine and culture, Louisiana is one of America's most unique and exciting states. The society is a mixture of deep southern traditions, transplants from across the Caribbean and French roots left over from early American expansion. With so many different kinds of people and experiences, it is no surprise that Louisiana is also home to one of the fastest growing substance abuse problems in the United States.

How It Spreads

Like most southern states where the forests are deep and the cities spread apart, Louisiana is fighting a battle against the rise in meth labs. While the state has seen a 74 percent increase in lab seizures between 2005 and 2007, locating them has become more difficult as producers get creative. Recently, many states have been discovering “one-pot" meth labs that are mobile and can be easily hidden. This makes the distribution threat more serious, because the mobile labs are able to move on to the next city once they are under suspicion and become nearly impossible to detect.

The target for these labs, as with most chemical drugs, is youth between the ages of 12 and 20. It oftentimes only takes one use of a highly addictive substance like meth to catalyze a long-term addiction. This is why it is especially dangerous for this age group, because the brain is not fully developed until after puberty and the effects can be more devastating than in adults.

How The State Is Fighting Back

The first step in the fight against drug abuse in Louisiana began with stricter border control. With so many people coming in from Mexico and Caribbean countries, it is difficult to track where the majority of the drugs are coming from. The next step was shutting down the meth labs and tracking those that are moving around to attempt to continue production under the radar.

In 2008, the National Drug Control Policy reported 17,959 arrests in Louisiana involving drug-related crimes, 42 percent of which included individuals under the age of 18. However, in these cases, it was rare that the person was brought in because they were caught with drugs. The police have reported that most of the cases related to drug abuse begin with violence, often domestic, induced and aggravated by the use of meth or cocaine.

The Louisiana State Police Force also claims that the abundance of street gangs and underground criminal chains has a large effect on the drug problems in the larger cities. The gangs that form their bases within the larger cities have been linked to the production and distribution of cocaine, while police look to the roving motorcycle gangs that are drawn to the state by the intricate roadways.

Louisiana State Police encourage anyone with information on drug abuse to seek help with the many rehabilitation centers located throughout the state.