Experts call opioid crisis a difficult fight on the front lines

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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Louisiana Governor Edwards says the declaration will eventually help bring more funding to fighting the addiction.

For now, NELA law enforcement and rehab centers are finding better ways to dealing with the epidemic.

Sterlington Police Chief, Barry Bonner, says the numbers of arrests involving opioids have almost doubled. He says there are times when his officers have to act as E-M-T's when they arrive at crime scenes.

Bonner says another issue for law enforcement is the fact that these drugs are legally prescribed. He says if the opioids are prescribed, they cannot arrest an individual under the law.

"It does make it difficult in being able to grab it and pull it off the streets," Bonner says, "because these things belong to these people."

New Day Recovery's administrator, Doug Pollock, says it can only take one pill for a person to become addicted.

"Catching the most scrutiny right now is just the fact that there's been a loose pen as far as the prescriptive practices by the physicians," Pollock says.

Pollock says the increasing number of addicts means they had to get more beds and are even opening a new facility. However, rehab can only do so much. Once the patient leaves, it is up to them to stay sober.

"Relapse is the ugly facet that comes with addiction and the best way to prevent relapse is go through a good treatment program." He says.

Both Pollock and Bonner say that early education on the addiction is the best way to bring those numbers down.

The rehab facility says the best way for users to stay sober is an outpatient treatment or programs like narcotics anonymous.