Evidence-Based, Cost-Effective Approach Would Save Countless Lives in Los Angeles Amid Skyrocketing Overdose Deaths
Los Angeles, CA – In response to the Los Angeles City Council joining California State Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco) today in support of SB 57—a bill to bring Overdose Prevention Programs to California—by passing a resolution authored by City Council Woman Nithya Raman, Jeannette Zanipatin, California State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance released the following statement:
"With overdose deaths up nearly 50% during the first five months of the pandemic and now the fourth leading cause of death in LA County, it is more urgent than ever before that we use every resource available to save lives. And that is exactly the commitment the LA City Council has shown today by supporting this resolution," said Jeannette Zanipatin, California State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Overdose prevention programs provide an evidence-based, cost-effective approach for us to save lives now, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and connect people with other vitally important services - such as treatment, housing and other healthcare resources – which have been shown to improve health outcomes in the long-term."
The Drug Policy Alliance—along with other co-sponsoring organizations, including the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, California Society of Addiction Medicine, HealthRIGHT 360, National Harm Reduction Coalition, Tarzana Treatment Centers, San Francisco AIDS Foundation and a growing statewide coalition—launched a vigorous legislative campaign last year to pilot Overdose Prevention Programs (OPP) in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles County, where the homeless crisis continues to grow, overdose rates have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and fentanyl-related deaths are surging.
In addition, local organizations in support of the resolution include: Bien Estar, Los Angeles LGBTQ Center, APLA Health (AIDS Project LA), Homeless Healthcare LA, the Sidewalk Project, LA Harm Reduction Network, LA Overdose Task force, Being Alive, the Center for Living and Learning and Asian American Drug Abuse Program.
SB 57 will focus on the urgent need for these life-saving programs in the wake of the nation’s growing overdose crisis, which kills more people than traffic accidents, homicides and suicides combined.
“The drastic increase of deaths among people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles signifies an emergency that requires urgent solutions. SB 57 will not only help lower the number of people dying each day from overdosing, but it will also help us get more people into services and treatment,” said Los Angeles City Council District 4 Councilmember Nithya Raman.
“California is facing a profound overdose crisis, with far too many people dying on our streets,” said Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco). “Overdose prevention programs are a proven strategy to reduce overdose deaths and get people into recovery. I’m thrilled that the City of Los Angeles supports Senate Bill 57 and is interested in being included in this pilot program. Based on the City Council’s request, I’m happy to include Los Angeles. I want to thank Councilmember Raman for her leadership on this important public health issue.”
“By supporting and joining SB 57, LA City Council is making it abundantly clear that Los Angeles is committed to finding solutions to the overdose crisis in a comprehensive and effective manner and committed to doing whatever it takes to save lives,” said Armando Gudino, California Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Overdose prevention sites are not new, not novel, and they are not sexy. But they work. They save people’s lives. By supporting SB 57, LA is taking a giant step towards common sense solutions for problematic drug use in Los Angeles,” David Goodman-Meza, MD, MAS David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.