A Los Angeles nonprofit sends mobile teams with oxygen cylinders to Skid Row to prevent overdoses amid the opioid crisis.
Homeless Health Care Los Angeles workers also carry naloxone, a drug commonly known as Narcan that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
For overdoses involving more than one drug, including non-opioids that don’t respond to naloxone, oxygen can be used to help stabilize people faster, treat a range of drug threats, and prevent the brain from dying. be damaged more seriously.
Word-of-mouth is the easiest way to do this, but teams at the nonprofit use masks hooked up to oxygen cylinders, reports the LA Times.
Kailin See, senior director of programs at OnPoint NYC, said an opioid overdose is basically “a slow cessation of breathing,” so “it makes sense that your #1 tool really is oxygen.”
Fatal overdoses have more than doubled in the Skid Row area in two years, with more than 110 deaths in 2021, according to the LA County Health Department (file photo)
LA County officials said they were not aware of any other Southern California community groups using oxygen to address the issue in this way.
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has argued that to address the problem, changes needed include: increasing the distribution of naloxone, improving access to drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine for ward off addiction; the expansion of mobile clinics for the homeless; and advancing supervised sites where people can take medication so trained staff can intervene and prevent overdoses.
Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a state bill to set up such supervised sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, but he said he remained open to the discussion whether local officials returned to the California Legislature with “comprehensive plans”. .
An explosive rise in drug overdoses has driven up homeless deaths in Los Angeles County in recent years, along with rising numbers of traffic accidents and homicides, according to a health department report. public published in May.
Fatal overdoses have more than doubled in the Skid Row area in two years, with more than 110 deaths in 2021, according to the LA County Health Department.
For people in the 90013 postcode, which Skid Row is part of, overdose deaths were more than 77 times the county rate after adjusting for age.
For people in the 90013 zip code, which Skid Row is part of, overdose deaths were more than 77 times the county rate after adjusting for age (file photo)
In more than four square miles, there are 4,400 homeless people on Skid Row, including 2,695 who are homeless, according to the 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless County.
This is the densest concentration of people experiencing homelessness in the county.
The death rate rose 55% among homeless people in LA County between 2019 and 2021, a much higher increase than in the years before the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials have found.
There were more than 2,200 countywide homeless deaths in 2021, marking the first time the agency has reported an annual death toll above 2,000, said Will Nicholas, director of the Center for Health Impact. Assessment at the LA County Department of Public Health. .
He said “it’s getting more and more deadly or dangerous to be homeless”.
Drug overdoses were the leading cause of death, accounting for more than a third of deaths among LA County’s homeless people in 2020 and 2021 combined, according to the report. Fatal overdoses often involved more than one drug.
The dramatic rise in fentanyl appears to be linked to soaring overdose deaths, public health officials have said.
The percentage of overdose deaths involving fentanyl among homeless people nearly tripled, from 20% in 2019 to 58% in 2021.
Fentanyl-related deaths almost always involved combination drugs.
In 2021, 71% of all fentanyl-related deaths among homeless people also involved methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine was implicated in nearly 77% of overdose deaths.