How New Orleans Libraries are Offering Courses on Drug Abuse Prevention

New Orlean

Here’s a news story that we can all get behind, a news story that focuses on good things and good news, instead of bad. And not only is this a news story, but this is a story that we can learn from. This is a story that we can use to model change in our own communities, change that will eventually lead to a better society of fewer and fewer drug use trends.

This is the story of the library system that started to educate people about drugs.

Earlier this year, the New Orleans public health department worked with the New Orleans public library system to establish courses and educational sessions, all with the mission of helping to control, reduce, and prevent the spread of the opioid epidemic.

The New Orleans Mission

This is not just one program that one library is trying to work on. This is a city-wide effort where multiple libraries throughout the city of New Orleans are working together to educate the populace on the risks of opioids. The library system has operated with the direct guidance of the health department, the goal being to reduce the opioid epidemic with the power of education.

So far, the plan is to rotate a bevy of six, ninety-minute classes in each library throughout New Orleans. The focus will be on educating participants about the risks and dangers of opioids. Furthermore, the intent will be to brainstorm prevention tactics, rehabilitation efforts, awareness campaigns, and ongoing educational programs. The goal is to take the participants to the library seminars and get them well educated on the drug problem and on methods for addressing it, and then to recruit those participants to spread the good word of drug-free living into other, similar campaigns throughout the city.

New Orleans is working to create a grassroots movement of anti-drug use and drug crime. The efforts of the city, the health department, and the library system, and all participants should be applauded for their efforts to create a sober and drug-free New Orleans.

Details of the “New Orleans Plan”

Meeting on drug addiction
(Photo by Monkey Business Images/

The “New Orleans Plan” is now being replicated in other cities and communities, with health departments from cities in Colorado taking up the mantle and brainstorming how to use community action to reduce drug addiction statistics within their communities.

In New Orleans, the topics that will be taken up at each meeting will include valuable data like:

  • How to recognize opioid addiction in another.
  • How to respond to an opioid overdose.
  • How to administer naloxone to an overdosing individual.
  • How to get ahold of naloxone for home, workplace, or mobile preparedness.
  • How to organize other educational and prevention-based programs.
  • Where struggling addicts can get help for addiction.
  • Where concerned family members and loved ones can learn more about addiction.

These are the keynotes that the project organizers are planning to discuss, but they are also leaving some of the itineraries open to allow for group interaction and discussion within each seminar and meeting.

The website,, wrote a press release on the library campaign. They included the details, times, and addresses of each meeting, with additional data on the likelihood of further meetings and group activities. The course schedule for the first six meetings has been included below, directly cited from the website:

  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 at Norman Mayer Library (3001 Gentilly Blvd.)
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28 East New Orleans Regional Library (5641 Read Blvd.)
  • 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at Algiers Regional Library (3014 Holiday Drive)
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11 at East New Orleans Regional Library (5641 Read Blvd.)
  • 11 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at Mid-City Library (4140 Canal St.)
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Main Library (219 Loyola Ave., third-floor meeting room)

For those who cannot make the meetings or who are reading this information after the fact, the footnotes and details of each meeting will be available from the individual libraries where they were held.

The Power of Education

While it is difficult to nail down an exact number or percentile, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that, when an individual learns the truth about drugs and alcohol and really knows what is at stake with such activities and habits, they are far less likely to start experimenting with such substances. In fact, the numbers come out to about a four-hundred percent decrease in likelihood to experiment, especially if people receive this information at a young age.

This is the power of education, the power that knowledge and awareness about drugs and alcohol have on a person. Most people start misusing drugs and alcohol with some vague idea of the risks involved, but they rarely know just how serious those risks are. When people (especially young people) have the chance to learn about the details of drugs and alcohol, they very rarely experiment with such substances.

The Loyola University of New Orleans is now picking up the flag of education for drug use prevention and is carrying that standard onto their own campuses. In a direct quote from the college’s website, the college talks about how they have now made alcohol and drug education a mandatory course for students:

“AlcoholEdu for First Year Students is a mandatory course for first-year students. Students must sign up for their courses and complete them by the deadlines…”
Students doing test
(Photo by LStockStudio/

Developed by student affairs professionals, “EverFi” is a comprehensive program designed to inform students about how to minimize the risks associated with alcohol, drugs, and sexual assault. “AlcoholEdu for First Year Students” is a mandatory course for first-year students. Students must sign up for their courses and complete them by the deadlines. Failure to complete these courses can result in a registration hold, possible conduct charges, and punitive fines.

As we can see from that above citation, just one, simple effort from the New Orleans public library system and the public health department are now leading to other efforts throughout the city to raise awareness and education on substance abuse. This is a great example of what a community can accomplish when they all rally behind the same goal.

Why New Orleans is so Focused on Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

New Orleans is dedicated to reducing their opioid epidemic. According to press releases and corroboration from the New Orleans Coroner’s office, there were one-hundred and eighteen drug-related overdose deaths in New Orleans in just the first six months of 2018. In 2017, there were two-hundred and nineteen such deaths, a four percent increase from 2016. 2016 was the first year in New Orleans where drug overdose deaths exceeded murders. And of those overdose deaths, more than seventy-five percent of them involved fentanyl. We can see why this city is making a considerable effort to raise awareness and reduce the prevalence of opioid use.

Our Takeaway

The effort in New Orleans to use the public health department and local libraries to spread awareness and education on the drug problem is truly brilliant. Americans all across the country can take inspiration from this, as it is more than a little bit impressive when an entire city can organize such a powerful, grassroots effort. We can apply these same programs and principles in our own communities, and we can reduce drug use trends as a result.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP

(To preserve privacy, the photos does not show the people featured in this article.)



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.