Scores turn out to raise addiction awareness - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Scores turn out to raise addiction awareness


New Orleans -- Dozens of people braved the rainy weather to take a stand against a problem that's killing thousands of Americans each year.

Drug and alcohol use is the leading cause of highway deaths among teens in America, and the stats for adults aren't much better.

It affects virtually every American, either personally or through someone they know.

It's the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24, and it's behind 50% of all highway deaths.

"We have a rate of binge drinking that's three times the national goal," said City Health Director Karen DeSalvo. "We have higher rates of substance use, and a rising rate of prescription drug use."

Former Channel 8 anchor Mary Lou McCall, has been battling addiction for nearly 10 years. "I almost died, I had .40 alcohol in my system a couple of times," McCall said.

McCall uses a hybrid approach to dealing with addiction, relying on therapy, exercise, prayer and discussion.

Providers want to put out the word...therapy is available for anyone in need.

"We are the first state in the nation to have all these services reimbursable by medicaid," according to Craig Coensen, M.D. with Magellan Health Services, which is a statewide health care administrator.

While drug and alcohol dependency is a problem throughout the entire population, it's especially problematic for members of the military.

"There are over 70,000 veterans," said Ariel Goolsby with the Jefferson Parish Alliance. "And over 30% of the military members coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with substance abuse, and ptsd."

Exercise is often key. "Absolutely it raises endorfins, it makes you feel better," said recovering addict Kevin Simms.

For those with addiction issues, the struggle never ends.

"I want people to know there's hope...never give up," said McCall.

And there's plenty of support...for those who need it.

Again, help for addictive or behavioral disorders is now being reimbursed by medicaid, and officials say if you need it, you can call either of two numbers. Either 504 568 3130, or 800 424-4399.

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