International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) was a sobering opportunity for all of us to take note of the human devastation wrought by drug addiction, especially as it impacts our unhoused neighbors and friends.
The data behind people experiencing homelessness who also battle addiction are staggering:
- Fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, was implicated in 58% of deadly overdoses among unhoused people in L.A. County in 2021 — nearly three times the percentage in 2019.
- The death rate increased 55% among people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County between 2019 and 2021, a dramatic increase from the years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The IOAD website has an alarming but informative page offering additional facts about the scourge of addiction and overdose.
The pain and suffering behind those numbers is heartbreaking.
For each person who dies by overdose, there are countless others – loved ones, family and friends – who shoulder the burden of that loss. At Hollywood 4WRD, we also feel the pain of addiction. Our members encompass a wide range of stakeholders in Hollywood, from service providers and city officials to Faith-based leaders and our unhoused neighbors, all dedicated to H4WRD’s mission of preventing and ending street homelessness in Greater Hollywood. It’s fair to say that addiction has been on our collective radar for a long time.
In June of this year, we held a special event for our members, entitled In the Eye of a Tragic Storm: The Intersection of Homelessness and Addiction in 2023. The evening offered a stark look at the impact of addiction on people experiencing homelessness, but also provided members with some hope that there are early intervention and treatment options available for those able to access them
We work alongside people and organizations devoted to supporting our unhoused friends through all the challenges they face, including addiction. As we pause today to remember those lost through overdose, we’re glad to share these resources for educating our community about the problem of addiction AND how we can prevent further suffering:
- FAQ Sheet for Circle Program (Crisis and Incident Response through Community-led Engagement)
- IOAD Resources
- Instructions on Narcan use
- LA County Dept of Mental Health
- LA County Dept of Public Health
- Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) in Community Programs Outside of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) Network
- Substance Abuse Prevention and Control
- Saban Community Clinic & Mobile Vans
- UCLA Homeless Healthcare Collaborative & Mobile Vans
- Fentanyl overdoses contribute to surge in L.A. County homeless deaths
- H4WRD Blog on 6/13 Special Event on Homelessness and Addiction
- Audio podcast of the 6/13 event
- Short video from 6/13 event: H4WRD Board member interviews people on the streets about their drug use
- Homeless people fight to save lives, and stay alive, as L.A.’s fentanyl crisis worsens
- Report: Mortality Rates/Causes of Death Among People Experiencing Homelessness in LA County