Gabby’s Law: legalizing fentanyl test strips to fight overdose deaths – The Observer

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Hebert’s parents, Judy and Jason Hebert of Kinder and her uncle Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert III hope a new state law that legalizes fentanyl test strips will help reduce the tragic deaths that have cut young lives short and left families wondering why.

“It’s sad that death brings it out, but maybe something good can come out of something so tragic,” Judy Hebert said. “I just hope people get it and use it if they can’t beat it and get help. If we can save a life, we’ve done our best to honor Gabby.

She was one of 10 people who died from a fentanyl overdose in Calcasieu Parish that week, Jason Hebert said.

“We hope it saves lives and does something to make dealerships and suppliers less important in people’s lives,” said Judy Hebert.

Until August, when State Rep. Dustin Miller’s bill was signed into law, fentanyl test strips and other testing devices were considered paraphernalia of drug use in Louisiana.

“Until then, if you were arrested and in possession of narcotics, all the things associated with it would also be props,” Sheriff Hebert said. “So in order to avoid that, so that people don’t mind getting the strips to test him to make sure he’s safe, the law was created so they don’t have to worry about dealing with another charge.”

Sheriff Hebert said law enforcement does not condone the use of illegal narcotics, but hopes the new law will help people know what they are using and help save lives.

The thin paper test strips can signal the presence of deadly opioids in other drugs, he said.

“Hopefully people have enough common sense and ability to get the strips and test something before using them,” Sheriff Hebert said. “I don’t think the tapes are going to test its strength, but at least you can see it’s there and maybe not use it. I’m sure some won’t test or care and some may test and use it anyway, but it’s a start.

In recent years, law enforcement in the area has seen an increase in the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and drug-related deaths, Sheriff Hebert said. The cases are difficult to track unless a criminal offense is involved, he said.

“Fentanyl has been around forever, it only recently hit its crazy peak,” he said. “It’s almost to the point now that every time you overdose, you can almost bet it was fentanyl-related.”

Fentanyl is the drug of choice for addicts because it is highly intoxicating and highly addictive, he said. It is also cheap and can be easily added to other illegal drugs without people knowing about it.

“Half the time they don’t even know it’s in there,” Sheriff Hebert said. “They think they’re using crack or meth, but it’s just there as a filler. The things we deal with are not legitimate at all.

Users act differently from the drug, he said.

“What gets one person high can kill another,” he said.

Judy Hebert hopes the new law will make a difference and save lives.

“I know addiction is a disease that you just can’t get away from,” she said. “I don’t know how many times we cleaned up Gabby and she even went to rehab…she looked really good the night before that happened.”

It was the second time Gabby had overdosed after taking a fentanyl-containing pill. She was revived in April 2021 and vowed to turn her life around.

“She was worried about wanting it again and she knew it was up to her,” Judy Hebert said. “She would cry that I don’t want to be addicted, but I will always be addicted.”

Judy Hebert said if her daughter had access to test strips she could still be here today.

“There’s no way for a person to know if (fentanyl) is there because you can’t see it or smell it,” Judy Hebert said. “They just have to trust the person they’re getting it from, which is another scary thing. Gabby got it from a friend, someone she knew,”

Gabby had been in rehab in Biloxi, Mississippi, but was home for the weekend for a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

“She looked really good,” Judy Hebert said of her daughter. “Her face was clear and she spoke well. She looked really clean. She ate and cut with us. I thought she was in a good place.

After having dinner with her parents, Gabby planned to go shopping with her mother the next day, then went to spend the night at a friend’s house in Lake Charles.

“He got up to go to work early that morning and said she was awake and spoke to him,” Judy Hebert said. “I guess she just took a sleeping pill for the depression. I never heard from her that day and she missed her doctor’s appointment. As a mother, I had this bad feeling in my heart and guts and started texting her to tell her to wake up.

She later learned from a friend’s mother that Gabby had been found dead.

Judy Hebert said Gabby started experimenting with drugs occasionally in high school, first with marijuana and turned to pills after graduating from high school.

“She started modeling when she was 14 and kept busy with it and kept herself clean because she knew she had to,” Judy Hebert said. “In 2018 she started dabbling again, playing with bad pills and crowds.”

She repeatedly tried to quit and had left Louisiana in hopes of turning her life around just months before her death.

“She was sleeping with us as old as she was, throwing up her guts and shivering and just cleaning herself up,” Judy Hebert said. “She knew she would come home and as many times as we threatened to kick her out, our love comforted her knowing she could come home and clean herself up. She knew what she had to do, but she couldn’t fight him.

Judy Hebert urges parents to talk to their kids about drugs and ask for help when needed.

She still keeps in touch with Gabby’s friends, many of whom have their own drug problems.

“I spoke to some of them the week he died and said, ‘Do you see my face? It’s the face of a mother who has just kissed her baby for the last time, head sticking out of a body bag. Please don’t put this on your parents. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” she said. “I have to keep believing that God is bigger than the Devil. The Devil will try to keep winning with all these vendors under him, but we have to keep fighting.

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