In recognition of National Opioid Awareness Day, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and partners gathered to advance a multi-faceted opioid prevention strategy to reduce the overdose crisis in Los Angeles County.
The overdose crisis is at all-time high in Los Angeles County with seven to eight people dying every day of an overdose, approximately half of those overdoses are caused by fentanyl. Nationally, six out of ten street-bought drugs now contain illicit fentanyl, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. There is no way to see, smell, or taste if a pill or powder has been laced with fentanyl.
Public Health provides intervention programs and services to prevent opioid use, reduce deaths from overdose and provide easy access to treatment programs. These resources include widespread availability of naloxone, an easy-to-administer opioid overdose reversal nasal spray; expansion of harm reduction programs; and targeted awareness campaigns to communicate the increasing community risk of illicit fentanyl and the tools available to help those in need.
Public Health and community partners gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Behavioral Health Center earlier Thursday. Here are selected quotes from officials:
“National Opioid Awareness Day provides us with an opportunity to shine a brighter light on the destructive impact of fentanyl and other harmful drugs and the County’s multi-pronged effort to combat this crisis,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “We are committed to strengthening preventative resources and access to recovery options that meet the varying needs of our residents. We cannot do this without strong community partnerships and residents joining us in raising awareness on the resources and support that is available.”
“The fentanyl crisis is a tragedy of historic proportions. Illicit fentanyl is impacting all our communities and leading to the tragic deaths of thousands of our friends, family members, and loved ones,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, director of L.A. County Department of Public Health. “All of us are on the frontline of the fentanyl crisis, and we want all members of the community to understand this crisis and know that tools such as naloxone can save lives.”
“The fentanyl crisis is affecting all of us and sparing no community, neighborhood, or demographic,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna. “Through our Sheriff’s Overdose Response Task Force, we are working with our local and federal partners to aggressively pursue individuals who cause tragic deaths in our communities and bring justice to families who have lost loved ones. The importance of opioid and fentanyl awareness is critical to saving lives and every person in our community has the shared responsibility to be part of that solution.”
“As the fentanyl crisis continues to impact our youth, it’s imperative that we take action. Our schools are committed to not only educating but also implementing preventive and interventionist measures to ensure our students are fully aware of the risks associated with fentanyl use. We are deeply appreciative of the cooperative efforts made by our community partners, which enable us to address the opioid epidemic more comprehensively and safeguard our most vulnerable youth,” said Dr. Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools.
“The DEA is working tirelessly on a multi-level approach to tackle the drug overdose and poisoning crisis that is driven by criminal drug networks,” said William D. Bodner, DEA special agent in charge, Los Angeles Field Division. “From targeting and prosecuting violent drug offenders, to community outreach and the expansion of medically assisted treatment options, the DEA is committed to a comprehensive approach to combat the current drug epidemic. Education and awareness are an absolute essential component to end the deadliest drug crisis our country has ever seen.”
“I advocate for awareness, change, and education, hoping to spare others from the excruciating pain and heartache that comes from losing a child or loved one,” said Alma Sanchez, community member and mother of 19-year-old Deenilson, who lost his life to a fentanyl overdose. “There are still many uninformed families that don’t talk about the issue because of the shame that comes from substance use disorders. Let’s end that stigma and help start the conversation to create a better future for our families.”