Amid an opioid epidemic, New Orleans struggles with shortage of detox beds

For years, Mike Wattler molded his life around his alcohol addiction, often balancing a habit of drinking a half a gallon of vodka a day and working in construction or as a longshoreman– usually hiding a bottle in his backpack.

But last November, he said, he knew he had to stop.

As he had in the past, the 30-year-old tried to white-knuckle his way through self-detox. He remembers having to call a friend and telling him he wasn’t feeling well. He went over to his friend’s house and within minutes started having a seizure.