The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to develop recommendations to enhance and expand access to substance abuse prevention and treatment services.
Substance use disorders are estimated to impact more than 250,000 individuals and cost nearly $13 billion annually in Los Angeles County alone.
Currently, the demand for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs heavily outweighs the existing capacity — especially in geographic regions such as the Antelope Valley that lack an adequate number of resources. The ability for individuals to access services is becoming critically important as the County continues to address the impact of substance abuse disorder on homelessness and incarceration.
“As we work to address the needs of homeless individuals or those who are involved in the criminal justice system, we must ensure we are providing comprehensive services to meet the full spectrum of their health needs including substance use disorder treatment services,” Barger said. “Substance abuse, especially in light of the opioid epidemic, continues to cost lives and wreak irreparable social and emotional damage on children and families. We must do more across the entire substance use disorder continuum of care.”
One of the goals of the motion will also be to address the impact of substance use disorder on youth through prevention activities in schools. This effort was publicly supported by Youth Services Policy Group which represents 22 organizations countywide that provide the full continuum of substance use services and urged the county to increase capacity for young populations.
The motion calls for recommendations to enhance public-private partnerships that can expand treatment capacity; an increase in the capacity of Recovery Bridge Housing beds to ensure safe living for individuals experiencing homelessness; connections for patients that complete treatment to stable living situations that support recovery; and an evaluation of strategies to address workforce shortages and training needs to increase prevention and treatment capacity.
This motion augments earlier efforts by Barger to increase capacity and access to mental health services to meet the needs of the homeless or previously incarcerated with an additional 500 treatment hospital beds.