Inside the hotel at the heart of Baton Rouge's overdose crisis: 'Drug and OD cesspool' (2023)

A four-mile strip of 8 budget hotels near I-12 has recorded 135 OD calls since the start of 2021.


Inside the hotel at the heart of Baton Rouge's overdose crisis: 'Drug and OD cesspool' (4)

First Latoya Turner lost her home and then her husband to pancreatic cancer.

Since then, Turner (43) has juggled gigs at gas stations and fast food restaurants. As of 2021, he has lived on and off at the FairBridge Inn Express on Boardwalk Avenue.

With rooms from $40 to $44, that's often all she can afford. But he wished he could live somewhere—almost anywhere—else.

She said a room she stayed in at FairBridge did not have a toilet; just a hole in the floor. Turner, who has been sober for 23 years after a heroin addiction, says the hotel and others are near a "cesspit" full of used needles and other drug paraphernalia.

He lives in the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in East Baton Rouge Parish.

According to the coroner's office, 311 people died of drug overdoses in the parish in 2021. That's a nearly 30% increase over 2020, the previous all-time record.

At the center of this deadly growth is a four-mile strip of eight budget hotels along I-12. Since the beginning of 2021, there have been 135 emergency calls due to overdoses at these hotels, according to data from emergency medical services and police services.

And that's just an overdose; in some hotels911 is called hundreds of times a yearfor various criminal charges.

Data compiled by the East Baton Rouge district attorney shows that 10 of the parish's 11 deadliest overdose sites in the past two years are budget motels; 11 is a hospital.

Five of the seven deadliest locations are hotels and motels along I-12, between Airline Highway and the Central Throughway: Hotel FairBridge Inn Express, Woodspring Suites Extended Stay, OYO Hotel East, Siegal Select and America's Best Value Inn.

Inside the hotel at the heart of Baton Rouge's overdose crisis: 'Drug and OD cesspool' (5)

At the time, five companies were responsible for at least 25 fatal overdoses, according to the district attorney's office. The FairBridge Inn Express, where Turner is staying, was the cause of nine deaths, the most of any location in the parish.

"These hotels are convenient locations for users and dealers because A rooms are readily available and B rooms are cheap," said John Daily, who runs the prosecutor's office's "When You're Ready" campaign to help control people towards recovery resources.

Daily, who is recovering on his own, is staying in hotels with other volunteers. He says that help is not always welcome.

"Going there and offering them a different lifestyle is bad for their business," he said.

"Activity Hatchery"

Turner tries to help hotel addicts by providing them with clean needles and carrying Narcan, aa life-saving drugwhich can revive people in the violence of an overdose. She said she uses Narcan to revive people several times a week because of the frequency of overdoses at FairBridge and nearby gas stations.

An hour before she spoke to The Advocate Thursday, Turner said she used Narcan on a person who was overdosing in a nearby parking lot before calling 911.

Since the beginning of 2021, EMS has responded 188 times to calls for fatal and non-fatal overdoses at the 14 worst crime hotels. The hotel with the highest number of overdoses during that period was the OYO Hotel on Gwenadele Avenue, where people overdosed at least 32 times, five of them fatally. The hotel became a symbol of wider problems afterThere was a fatal shooting there in April.

Many of the troubled hotels are clustered near several busy intersections near interstate highways.

"Wards 10-12 have created a hotbed of activity for us ... and that's very concerning," said Laurie Adams, a city councilwoman whose District 11 includes Gwenadele OYO and several others with high overdose rates.

Another hot spot: a cluster of three motels near Siegen Lane and I-10, where EMS has responded to 31 overdoses since early 2021.

Because so many overdoses happen near these hotels, Clean Needle Distribution and Narcan groups have set up shop nearby.

Among them is the Capital Area Re-Entry Program, whose mobile unit provides clean syringes, wound care kits, tests for hepatitis C, HIV and other resources to intravenous drug users. Their mobile unit plan for May and June shows frequent visits to intersections near hotels with high overdose rates.

"We find that they go to hotels, to abandoned properties, to places where their loved ones can't see them to inject drugs," said Gjvar Payne, executive director of the Capital Reentry Program. "You see a lot more people in hotels because they can get a room and get drunk for a few days."

Jan Laughinghouse, executive director of Capital Area Human Services, said people overdose in hotels for the same reason they do in fast food restrooms and cars.

"It's just an affordable place where you can afford to use them," Laughinghouse said. “Any cheap hotel that people can afford, they can probably beg or engage in prostitution to get the money to pay for the night... people who use drugs are just like the rest of us, they want to be safe and protected. "

Inside the hotel at the heart of Baton Rouge's overdose crisis: 'Drug and OD cesspool' (6)

"Evolving like hell"

Some hotels are the scene of dilapidated buildings and insect infestations.

"It rattles like hell and doesn't update," Turner said of FairBridge.

As she stood in the parking lot of a gas station next to the motel Thursday, she rolled up her sleeves to reveal small pox marks on her forearms, which she said were from scabies she picked up at the motel.

Despite Fairbridge's dilapidated appearance — including the lack of second-floor balconies, rooms unusable without plumbing and reports of bugs and mites inside — the building's owner and landlord deny any responsibility.

Manan Patel, whose company BR-LA REALTY LLC is listed in the property tax registry as the owner of the hotel, emphasized that the responsibility for maintaining the property rests solely with the hotel's management.

"I'm just a property owner, it's not my responsibility," Patel said.

Messages left with FairBridge's corporate offices went unanswered, and a receptionist at the Baton Rouge location told reporters a manager was unavailable.

Patel's selfless approach differs from some other hoteliers who say they go to great lengths to ensure the safety and maintenance of their properties.

Raj Patel, who owns OYO in Guenadele and Mead, did not respond to a message seeking comment for the story. But in an interview last month, he concededthe depth of the problems in his Gwenadele estateand blamed staff shortages caused by COVID and devastating weather for the deterioration of its assets.

At the OYO Hotel on Mead Road — the site of the 29th overdose since early 2021 — a security guard told reporters Thursday it was his first day on duty guarding the property.

What has been done to him?

Last month's fatal shooting at OYO in Guenadeles has renewed pressure on parish leaders to find ways to force hoteliers to reduce crime.

Officials say they are contacting hotel owners directly to resolve the issues.

"In many cases, verbal arguments help a lot more than the hammer of the law in many cases," said City and Parish Administrator Darryl Gissel. "We have people who just refuse to listen, and then you have to use the hammer."

The problem, however, is that the parish often does not have too many hammers.

In 2018, the Metro Council adopted a new order requiring hotels and motels to apply for permits. The parish can suspend or revoke these permits for activities that "adversely affect the health, safety and welfare" of visitors or those living nearby. The parish should have tracked data such as calls to law enforcement to support such activities.

But the law was never implemented. No one was responsible for monitoring the data and acting on it.

Adams along with Alderman Dwight Hudson wereworking on changing the statutesrequire hotels to apply for permits every year. They also want to increase the application fee by $100, raising money to pay for monitoring and enforcement.

Although the 2018 ordinance passed, it could not be used to crack down on motels with high overdose rates, as it sets a benchmark of at least five arrests, which is rare for overdoses.

Adams said she would like to change the ordinance in a way that would limit drug use on the properties. This can be done in the form of annual inspections so that the city-parish can see when a motel is failing and take action by revoking the permit.

In addition to the 2018 regulation, some state laws allow retaliation against businesses or homes that become hotbeds of crime. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore cited a law that allows police to find construction violations, such as the two apartment complexes in the Tigerland area that have killed many people in recent years.

Moore has been the only official to invoke the law in recent years, but he said a handful of law enforcement officials have the authority to do so: the state's attorney, the sheriff, the police chief, the parish attorney and the mayor's office.

Despite a string of overdoses, thefts and several murders at the city's parish motels, law enforcement officials say they can't enforce the harassment ordinance against them. Moore said that's because the law only applies to certain crimes.

“This law has been in place for years,” Moore said. "It's very old and probably out of step with the types of crimes we see today."

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What are signs of an overdose? ›

Symptoms of a drug overdose (including alcohol poisoning) may include:
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • severe stomach pain and abdominal cramps.
  • diarrhoea.
  • chest pain.
  • dizziness.
  • loss of balance.
  • loss of co-ordination.
  • being unresponsive, but awake.

What is the naloxone reversal for? ›

Naloxone can reverse the life-threatening respiratory depression associated with opioid overdose. A variety of naloxone products (nasal spray, injection, auto-injection) are available to respond to an overdose.

Is naloxone A opioids? ›

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist.

What is the reversal agent of Narcan? ›

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications.

What damage can an overdose do? ›

The Long-Term Effects of an Overdose

The mental health effects of an overdose can involve anxiety, depression, and memory problems, while physical effects can include Toxic Brain Injury, liver damage, compromised cardiovascular health, and neurological consequences.

How do you know when to use Narcan? ›

When should NARCAN ® Nasal Spray be used? Use NARCAN® Nasal Spray immediately when an opioid overdose is known or suspected. Signs of an opioid emergency may include: Unusual sleepiness and you are not able to awaken the person with a loud voice or by rubbing firmly on the middle of his/her chest (sternum)

How do you stop an OD? ›

When experiencing an overdose, breathing can slow to the point of death. Giving naloxone to someone who has overdosed restores normal breathing, by reversing the effects of opioids. It is safe, easy to administer, and has no potential for abuse.

How much does Narcan cost? ›

Public interest groups such as government agencies, nonprofits and first responders pay less than $50, on average, for a kit of two 4-milligram doses, the company says. The wholesale price is $125 per kit.

What can rapid reversal with Narcan lead to? ›

Larger than necessary dosage of NARCAN may result in significant reversal of analgesia and increase in blood pressure. Similarly, too rapid reversal may induce nausea, vomiting, sweating or circulatory stress.

How much is Narcan at Walgreens? ›

How much does Narcan cost? Without insurance, Narcan typically costs about $130 for a kit with one or two doses, but the over-the-counter prices could be 25 percent lower depending on current price points and discounts for other pharmacies already carrying the drug, the company said in a news release.

Where do you inject naloxone? ›

Draw all the fluid into the needle by pulling back on the plunger. Be sure the syringe fills with liquid — not air. Step 2: Inject the needle straight into muscle in the shoulder (like a flu shot) or into the front of the thigh. Push down on the plunger to empty the syringe.

How long are the side effects of Narcan? ›

Side effects can occur while using Narcan. Most side effects are mild and go away within a few hours or days after the drug is given and don't require medical attention. Talk with your doctor if you experience bothersome side effects that persist for more than a few days after using the drug.

What drugs are used to reverse sedation? ›

Reversal agents are a key part of sedation and anesthesia practice in dental settings. The benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil and the opioid antagonist naloxone are typically reserved for emergent use or to rescue a patient from unintended levels of deeper sedation.

What is the new opioid reversal agent? ›

Nalmefene is an opioid receptor antagonist which is used to treat acute opioid overdose. If nalmefene is administered quickly, it can reverse the effects of opioid overdose, including respiratory depression, sedation and low blood pressure (i.e., hypotension).

Does Narcan reverse propofol? ›

Extra vigilance is required with propofol, because you can't reverse its effects with Narcan or Romazicon.

Who is most affected by overdose? ›

Currently, 71% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, and the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older is growing rapidly. Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.

Is an overdose a traumatic event? ›

Overdose Trauma

An overdose is a traumatic experience, capable of damaging your health and even ending your life. Some overdoses are accidental, the result of an error in dosage, or a dangerous combination of substances.

Can you get trauma from overdose? ›

Traumas related to overdose, coined “overdose traumas” appear to be extremely psychologically traumatic, though the relationships vary by type and symptom. Programs should be cognizant of psychological trauma to address the full spectrum of overdose harms.

How long does it take to wake up from Narcan? ›

Naloxone acts in two to three minutes. If the person does not wake up in three minutes, bystanders should give a second dose. (Rescue breathing should be done while you wait for the naloxone to take effect so that the person gets oxygen to his or her brain.)

How long to watch patients after Narcan? ›

People who are given naloxone should be observed constantly until emergency care arrives. They should be monitored for another 2 hours after the last dose of naloxone is given to make sure breathing does not slow or stop.

How long should a patient be observed after Narcan? ›

“Patients can be observed for six or more hours or they can be immediately discharged with no further evaluation.

What is end overdose? ›

Founded by our CEO Theo Krzywicki, Leah Schexnayder, and Katie Krzywicki in 2018, End Overdose is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, California working to end drug-related overdose deaths through education, medical intervention, and public awareness.

How often can Narcan be administered? ›

Narcan and overdose

Narcan is administered in cases of known or possible opioid overdose. The drug can be given every 2 to 3 minutes until emergency personnel arrive. There isn't a maximum recommended dose of Narcan. And there aren't any known safety issues with giving a person more Narcan doses than they need.

Is Narcan free if you overdose? ›

Depending on where you live, your city or state may have a program that gives out free Narcan. And many community-based programs give out Narcan for free too. For example, the DOPE (Drug Overdose Prevention and Education) Project in San Francisco gives out free Narcan to people at risk of an opioid overdose.

Can a normal person buy Narcan? ›

You also could visit any major pharmacy and ask a pharmacist if Narcan is available for free. Some pharmacy chains — such as Walgreens, CVS and RiteAid — are involved in state programs that give out free Narcan.

Is it hard to get Narcan? ›

Naloxone is available in your state.

However, in most states, you can get naloxone at your local pharmacy without a prescription. You can also get naloxone from community-based naloxone programs and most syringe services programs.

What is the injection for overdose? ›

Naloxone injection is used along with emergency medical treatment to reverse the life-threatening effects of a known or suspected opiate (narcotic) overdose. Naloxone injection is also used after surgery to reverse the effects of opiates given during surgery.

What do paramedics do when someone overdoses? ›

If the overdose is opioid related, first responders need to inject naloxone intravenously for a quick reversal of the opioid overdose effects. Naloxone's effects last from 20 to 90 minutes and allow the patient to breathe again until he or she can receive further help.

What is the antidote for morphine Narcan? ›

Naloxone is an antidote to opioids that will reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time.

Is Narcan free at Walmart? ›

Naloxone is a medication that can stop an overdose and prevent death. Walmart and Sam's Club are committed to having Naloxone behind the pharmacy counters of our stores and clubs and dispensing naloxone upon request, where allowed by state law.

Do you need a script for Narcan? ›

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, 4 milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription, use – the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription.

Will CVS give you Narcan? ›

Naloxone is available without a prescription in all states, DC, and Puerto Rico. If you would like to purchase naloxone, simply ask a pharmacy team member at any CVS Pharmacy location.

How much naloxone do you inject? ›

Adults and children—0.4 or 2 milligrams (mg) injected under the skin or into a muscle.

What size needle is used for Narcan? ›

Intranasal naloxone requires a nasal atomzier device in order to deliver the medication. b. Intramuscular naloxone requires 2-intramuscular syringes (23 gauge, 3 cc, 1 inch) and alcohol swabs.

What are the most common routes for naloxone? ›

What Are The Common Ways To Administer Naloxone? Hospitals can administer naloxone intravenously if needed, but in most cases, a naloxone dosage is given intramuscularly, subcutaneously, or nasally.

What is the chance for recovery from Narcan? ›

A review of emergency medical services data from Massachusetts found that when given naloxone, 93.5% of people survived their overdose.

Does naloxone make you sleepy? ›

Naloxone may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or fainting. These effects may be worse if it is taken with alcohol or certain medicines.

What is the most sedating drug? ›

What is the most common sedative? Benzodiazepines are the most common group of prescribed sedatives. The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®).

What is the strongest sedative pill? ›

High-potency benzodiazepines:

For its high-potency and long-lasting effects, the most potent benzodiazepine is Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin. Other high-potency but short-acting benzos are alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and triazolam (Halcion).

How do they wake you up from anesthesia? ›

The process of waking up from anesthesia is known as emergence. During emergence, the anesthesiologist will slowly reduce the amount of anesthetic drugs in the body. This helps to reduce the intensity of the effects of anesthesia and allows the patient to regain consciousness.

What are the most diverted opioids? ›

Among all opioid agonist medications, methadone and buprenorphine together make up 15 percent of diversion reports, while oxycodone and hydrocodone are responsible for 67 percent. Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist used to treat opioid addiction, does not cause euphoric effects and is not a diversion risk.

What is the new potent opioid? ›

Scripps Research chemists developed a new biologic to work against the synthetic opioid carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

What are 4 drugs that can be reversed by naloxone? ›

Naloxone only works on overdoses caused by opioids. This family of drugs includes prescription painkillers like OxyContin, fentanyl, methadone, and Vicodin, as well as street drugs like heroin. Naloxone will not reverse overdose resulting from non-opioid drugs, like cocaine, benzodiazepines (“benzos”), or alcohol.

How do they wake you up from propofol? ›

Propofol sedation is nothing at all like sleep. Sleep is reversible with external stimulation - if you shake somebody, they wake up.

What happens if you give Narcan to someone who doesn t need it? ›

Naloxone Will Not Harm Someone Who Does Not Have Opioids in Their System. If someone is having a medical emergency other than an opioid overdose – such as a diabetic coma or cardiac arrest – giving them naloxone will generally not have any effect or cause them additional harm.

Does propofol knock you out? ›

Propofol is the sedative of choice given to first knock you out. Usually, other anesthetics are then given to keep you under,” van Swinderen added.

What is the best thing to do if you overdose? ›

Stay until help arrives

Administer naloxone. Perform rescue breaths (if time) Put them in the recovery position.

When should you go to ER for overdose? ›

Symptoms of an Overdose & When to Seek Emergency Care

If you experience or recognize the following symptoms in someone, dial 911: Breathing problems. Unconsciousness. Delusions and hallucinations.

What to do when someone is overdosing? ›

The steps outlined in this section are recommended to reduce the number of deaths resulting from opioid overdoses.
  2. STEP 2: CALL 911 FOR HELP.

What happens if you take 4 pills at once? ›

The more meds you take, the higher the risk of harmful drug interactions. Having multiple meds in your system can cause them to work differently than they're supposed to—and may even make them less effective.

Why would someone be on a ventilator after overdose? ›

By using the ventilator, they are attempting to protect the airway due to encephalopathy, combative nature, or altered mental status. A: First identify any supportive clinical indicators for a diagnosis of acute respiratory failure.

How many pills is too much? ›

Taking more than five medications is called polypharmacy. The risk of harmful effects, drug interactions and hospitalizations increase when you take more medications.

Should you call 911 for overdose? ›

Call 911 immediately! Say “I think someone may have overdosed. They aren't breathing.” • Use Narcan (the opioid overdose reversal drug) on the person, if you have it. If the person is not breathing and you know how, do rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth) or chest compressions.

What drugs are opioids? ›

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

What medicines Cannot be taken together? ›

Specifically, drugs that slow down breathing rate, such as opioids, alcohol, antihistamines, CNS depressants, or general anesthetics, should not be taken together because these combinations increase the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

How long does it take for a pill to get into your bloodstream? ›

A pill is usually absorbed into the blood through the stomach walls after it is swallowed – these can become active in a few minutes but usually take an hour or two to reach the highest concentration in the blood. IV drugs are injected directly into the blood work much faster – sometimes in seconds or minutes.

What happens if you take 4 Tylenol pills at once? ›

Taking too much acetaminophen can damage the liver, sometimes leading to a liver transplant or death. The body breaks down most of the acetaminophen in a normal dose and eliminates it in the urine. But some of the drug is converted into a byproduct that is toxic to the liver.


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