Fentanyl is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year and a Louisiana church has a plan to help save lives.

The First Evangelist Baptist Church in New Orleans supplies Narcan to churchgoers. Narcan is a drug that counters opiod overdoses, and can pull people back from the brink of death.

Pastor Reginald Landry at First Evangelist Baptist Church said he used to be a drug addict, so helping others overcome drug problems is personal to him.

“When I see a drug addict it comes to mind that that could still be me,” Reginald said. “So I have a passion for those that are back in that area, because you have to have help to come up. We all fall.”

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Landry has been preaching at the church for ten years. He said a member of the church lost her son to a drug overdose two years back and if Narcan was available he might still be alive.

“The Church has always been the backbone to the community,” Landry said. “People always turn to the pastors, so we are implementing that. That was a part of my idea to implement it to the churches.”

Every month Landry receives more than 100 doses of Narcan. He has been distributing it to his congregation for the last six months.

“In order to do ministry, you have to be mindful and careful of people and the Bible tells us we have to help one another. We have to love thy neighbor as we love thyself,” Landry said.

Pastor Landry stands in front of the church reading a passage to his congregation

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According to 2021 data from the CDC Louisiana has America’s third-highest rate of drug related deaths, behind Tennessee and West Virginia.

Doctor Charles Preston the Coroner for St. Tammany Parish said the fentanyl crisis has become so bad people should carry Narcan with them daily.

“Even if the person taking it is not an opioid addict, nobody in their family is an opioid addict. It is becoming so common that we see people collapsing in public and so first aid has turned into step one, call 911 step two, administer Narcan,” Dr. Preston said.

Dr. Preston said his office works with about 40 pastors and ministers across the parish to help people who are struggling with addiction. 

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