Life in the Big Easy simply isn't.  It's always been that way, but now more than ever, it's a hard place to live--and die.

For the first time in history, drug overdose deaths passed murders in New Orleans. There were 211 overdose deaths in 2016, a 129 percent increase from the year before. By contrast, there were 174 murders.  The rise in deaths by overdose was most significant among African-Americans, who comprised 45 percent of deaths in New Orleans as compared to 28 percent in 2015.

The sharp rise in overdose deaths is part of a national trend driven by opioid abuse, the drugs of choice being heroin and fentanyl.  Many of the deaths in New Orleans were from a combination of opioids, cocaine, and alcohol.  Officials are worried that there may be a resurgence in the use of "speedballs", a mixture of heroin and cocaine that is injected into the bloodstream.  (This potentially lethal combination is what killed John Belushi in 1982.)

The decline in manpower of the New Orleans Police Department may be partly to blame.  Between 2012 and 2016 there was a 40 percent drop in the number of times that police responded to calls concerning drug crimes.