New Orleans

** New Orleans **
Native Americans were the first known inhabitants of New Orleans. De Soto & La Salle both led expeditions through the area but there were very few white settlers until 1718. At this time Nouvelle – Orleans was founded on the first high ground above the mouth of the river. In 1722 a hurricane leveled most of the city & it was re-built using the current pattern. France originally controlled the territory but signed Louisiana over to the control of Spain in 1762 & 63. For the next 40 years New Orleans was a Spanish city with Spanish rules which allowed for a free class for people of color. The city was torn apart 2 more times by fire before finally being re – built with brick & mortar buildings. It even included a Cathedral which still stands today.

In 1803 the French regained control of Louisiana. They sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase a very short time later. Andrew Jackson led the force that successfully defended New Orleans from the British in the war of 1812. That final battle was won just outside of the city. During this time the city became one of the countries largest & wealthiest cities. This was due in part to the port which shipped goods such as the nations produce to much of the world. Slaves were sold in the markets everyday even though the city itself was a safe have for people of color. The entire area spoke French well into the 1800’s.

New Orleans was the biggest city in the whole confederacy during the Civil War. It only took 1 year before the Union knocked out the city defenses down the river & overcame the city. During the reconstruction of the country race became a very heavily debated area of discussion & when the KKK began taking root they had no second thoughts about entering New Orleans as well in the 1870’s. Even with the development of trains allowing for easier transport of goods & minimalizing the need to ship goods on the Mississippi, the port located there it remained vibrant & alive.

The streetcars were electrified by the turn of the century & a new form of music was born in the city shortly there after. It took hold in the speakeasy’s, bars, restaurants & in the red light district. The city was able to grow as technology allowed for the surrounding swampland to be drained & more people could live below the sea. The city was effected by hurricanes in several instances including 1965, 1947, 1915, 1909 & of course Hurricane Katrina in 2005. None of these catastrophically damaged the city until Katrina which leveled the cities defenses which were in place to keep the ocean water away. Katrina made thousands of people relocate around the world. The city is recovering, but it is far from the care free city it once was.

An aside: To those of us living in New Orleans, Katrina was a terrifying event. My family moved to Ohio to stay with relatives since we had lost everything in the storm. It was a real difficult period for my father who added to our woes by beginning to drink heavily. He did seek medical help to stop drinking, but….Think of the number of people you know who have a drinking problem that is serious enough so they ended up in rehab or are trying to follow a 12 step, abstinence free program AND have failed. That was my father, until I learned about the drug Baclofen and how doctors in Europe have been prescribing baclofen as the primary treatment for people who drink excessively. Unlike 12 step programs in the US that require abstinence such as AA , doctors in Europe are trying a new approach. They say that alcoholism is not a disease, but a symptom of a larger psychological issue. Compare that to how the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD: a “chronic relapsing brain disease”. Anyway, Baclofen removes or strongly suppresses cravings for alcohol in 92% of people. Initial clinical trials show that Baclofen has a 65% success rate for treatment-resistant alcoholics , allowing them to return to low- or medium-risk drinking. That’s right, this treatment doesn’t require abstinence although many people do stop all drinking. Suffice to say my father agreed to try a new program that is promoted by a website called LifeBac, that combine medication (baclofen) to remove cravings along with behavior changes via psychotherapy to rewire one’s habits are more successful than those old standard methods. So far, he is doing very well and we are hopeful that this time he will be able to take back his life and move on successfully.
Interestingly this drug to prevent alcoholism originally was developed to help relieve painful spasm, automatism, as well as clonus from a number of neurological diseases associated with spasm of the skeletal muscles. It is only relatively recently doctors are using it to treat excessive drinking. BTW: We moved back to New Orleans this year.

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