The Overdose Epidemic
Harm reduction is an evidence-based public health approach that aims to reduce the negative consequences associated with substance use.
Harm reduction focuses on “meeting people where they are” and recognizes that many people aren’t willing or able to stop using substances and focuses on decreasing the negative consequences associated with drug use by equipping individuals with the knowledge and resources they need to protect themselves.
Harm reduction adopts a variety of safer use strategies including syringe service programs, providing medications for addiction treatment (MAT), peer programs, safe consumption sites and more.
Joint Statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and City of Santa Monica Regarding Harm Reduction Services (New - June 2023)
DPH-SAPC Op-Ed on the Drug Overdose Crisis
History of Overdose Epidemic
- State/National Resources
- Local Resources
The overdose epidemic has resulted from many causes leading to a staggering increase in opioid-related deaths.
Explore the following sources in understanding the history of the use of opioid and other drugs and the causes of the present-day epidemic.
For SAPC Data Reports and Briefs, click here
Accessing Naloxone, Drug Testing & Test Strips
Naloxone is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication that reverses an opioid overdose.
It acts as an opioid receptor antagonist – meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids.
In the event of an opioid overdose, naloxone can quickly restore breathing to an individual whose breathing has slowed or stopped.
Access Naloxone from a Pharmacy
Naloxone is available to people with Medi-Cal and Medicare with a prescription from their doctor or can be supplied by participating pharmacies without a prescription.
Additionally, many private insurances also cover the cost of naloxone, for more information call your insurance provider.
Pharmacy Locations that Furnish Naloxone without a clinician’s prescription.
Pharmacists interested in supplying naloxone may visit the following website:
California State Board of Pharmacy
Distributing Naloxone in LA County
The California Department of Health Care Services’ (DHCS)
Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP)
is an initiative to prevent deaths due to opioid-related overdose through the provision of free naloxone.
All NDP applicants must submit a prescription or standing order for naloxone. If an organization does not have a standing order, one can be obtained from the
California Department of Public Health’s website
The Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND)
program is a program of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) which
aims to reduce opioid overdose deaths in LA County by teaching people at risk of an overdose, and those close to them, how to prevent, recognize and respond to overdose using naloxone.
OEND includes a list of existing community naloxone access points prioritizing naloxone for individuals at highest risk for overdose.
Accessing Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS)
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent causing a sharp, nationwide increase in overdose deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl
which has contaminated heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, illicitly manufactured pills, and other recreational drugs. Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are a form of inexpensive drug testing technology
that can help detect the presence of fentanyl and other fentanyl-analogs in a drug sample prior to use.
Information about fentanyl testing is available via:
CDPH Fentanyl Testing Fact Sheet
Fentanyl Test Strips can be accessed via:
Fentanyl Test Strips can be purchased via the vendor listed below:
Drug Checking and Accessing Test Strips
Xylazine is a sedative drug used by veterinarians to anesthetize animals that is increasingly present in the illicit drug supply.
Xylazine is not safe for use in humans and may result in serious and life-threatening side effects including skin wounds, low blood pressure, slowed heart rate, and slowed breathing.
People should administer naloxone during an overdose to block any opioids involved in an overdose, even if that overdose may involve xylazine, and call 911 to ensure that the person who overdosed obtains emergency medical care.
Xylazine test strips (XTS) are a form of inexpensive drug testing technology that can help detect the presence of xylazine in liquid or powder substances.
However, XTS do not show the amount, purity, or potency of the xylazine in the sample.
Xylazine Test Strips can be accessed via:
Xylazine Test Strips can be purchased via the vendors listed below:
Spectroscopy toxicology testing, that can test a variety of substances, is available for people that use drugs in LA County.
Residents of LA County can consider bringing their drugs to be tested at part of a pilot program being run through UCLA,
which uses Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) machines to analyze drug samples in about 15-20 minutes and is available for free through
or through contacting
for locations and hours.
Alternatively, selected Engagement and Overdose Prevention (EOP) Hubs
may offer spectroscopy toxicology testing.
Please refer to the list of EOP Hubs below to inquire about the availability of on-site drug checking services.