Zombie Killers, Mary-Jane Lovers, and Smurfer State Gore Galore: Get the Dirt on Drug Abuse in Louisiana
The Zombie Apocalypse Cometh
When most people think about being bitten in the bayou state, images of delectable True Blood-esque vampires might be the first thought that comes to mind. But you may as well shelf the fantasies of lanky Swedish man-candy and courtly old-world plantation beaux with bite, because a new creature with a taste for human flesh and blood has arrived in Louisiana, and he is: the zombie face-eater. Face-biting first went viral (so to speak) when reports from Miami described an incident in late May of 2012 in which a 31-year-old man ate almost 80% of a homeless man’s face. The perp, one Rudy Eugene, had allegedly taken an illegal street drug known as “bath salts”—a toxic cocktail of stimulants Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and pyrovalerone—and was found by police on a highway ramp, completely naked and munching on the face of 65-year-old homeless man Ronald Poppo. Eugene apparently only growled in response to police officers’ orders to cease and desist his cannibal feast, and was fatally shot during apprehension, leaving behind a critically wounded victim and a bloody mess of questions as to whether innocent-sounding “bath salts” could be behind the attack.
While zombie apocalypses have been on the tip of America’s collective cultural tongue for a few years now, it seems that the bath salts epidemic has added a fresh taste of reality to the nightmare. And Louisiana, one of the first states to ban the substance, has now experienced a bath salts-induced zombie attack of its own. Law enforcement officials in Scott, LA, reported in early June that one Carl Jacquneaux had attacked an unnamed victim and bit off portions of the man’s face before the victim managed to ward Jacquneaux off with wasp spray. Louisiana police and emergency responders have become all too familiar with the symptoms of bath salts ingestion since the potent hallucinogen began showing up under such benign names as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, and Lady Bubbles in gas stations and head shops. In addition to inducing hallucinations, the drug can also cause extreme aggression, immunity to pain, agitation, delusions, and paranoia, making it essentially a foolproof recipe for psychotic criminal behavior. A friend of both Jacquneaux and his victim confirmed that the suspect was indeed high on bath salts at the time of the attack.
While Jacquneaux’s mug shots reveal a man who appears little more malevolent than a mischievous leprechaun, residents of Scott, Louisiana, may well prefer real zombies to neighbors like Jacquneaux in the wake of the incident.
Lest we begin to think that toxic bath salts are the cajuns’ sole consciousness-alterer of choice, let’s turn our attention to some recent reports on usage of the gentle weed known as marijuana in the Louisiana territory. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s 2010 report on local drug use, marijuana is the drug most commonly cited for primary substance-abuse treatment admissions in Louisiana.
Now, this may be a bit of a head-scratcher to folks in the rest of the country, since marijuana is widely viewed as a substance that is not actually physically addictive. Unlike Cane’s sauce and LSU football, pot is thought to involve not so much a physical need (and risk of painful withdrawal) as something more like habituation with continued usage. Why then are bong-hitters of the bayou checking in to their local Betty Fords?
The possible answers are multiple. For one thing, it seems that the kind bud can actually be a bit too kind, according to a recent Columbia University study that investigated marijuana’s potential for dependency. Researchers found that weed does in fact create physical dependence in heavy smokers, although withdrawal from marijuana is less difficult a process than discontinuation of tobacco or alcohol use. Another potential high-harsher is the fact that many strains of marijuana nowadays contain increased amounts of THC, meaning that those smokers who throw caution to the wind as they inhale will get high far more potent—and more likely to be habit-forming—than anything your hippie Dad experienced in the ‘60’s.
Then again, maybe it’s just that, for better or worse, the bon temps roll a little harder and a little longer down in Acadiana.
Now, if you’ve ever spent time in the swampier depths of south Louisiana, you know that the Cajuns are a scrappy and entrepreneurial bunch. Who else, after all, would’ve had the ingenuity to discover that gator actually tastes like extra-briny, extra-yummy fried chicken? Or that rice is delicious in sausage? Or that you can cook a cochon by burying it in a metal box?
It seems that crawdads and coush coush aren’t the only thing that the creoles are cooking up these days, however. Bucking the national downward trend in meth production that followed the 2005 introduction of federal pseudoephedrine control laws, Louisiana saw a 74% increase in meth lab seizures over the years 2007 to 2009. Other states experienced similar increases in the seizure of meth labs in the same years due to the general rise of “smurfing,” which is the bulk purchase (often in small amounts, from different pharmacies) of pseudoephedrine for non-therapeutic purposes. Smurfing has created a concomitant rise in small, “one-pot” labs, which are often mobile and more easily concealed from prying authorities. Add in to this equation a hazardous backwater swamp setting, a few guard ‘gators, and you have a challenge for local law enforcement. But Louisiana authorities don’t just round up drunks on Bourbon Street; smurfers face a tough fight from the bayou boys in blue.
If you or someone you love is looking for a rehab in Louisiana, we can help. Call our hotline now at 1-800-473-0930.