Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Just Keep Taking Those Drugs, Says Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

But do it "safely;" LADPH emphasizes "harm reduction" over "recovery"

August 9, 2023 - The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health appears to have given up on getting addicted residents off of drugs. In a recent press release warning of the potential presence of the veterinary anesthetic xylazine in illicit drugs, the Department included one sentence in a 700-word press release that advised people not to use illicit drugs. The next six paragraphs described ways to "minimize the risk."

Nowhere in the press release did the Department list phone numbers, websites, or agencies that would help those on drugs to get rid of their addiction. Nowhere.

On the LADPH website, there is one page, buried on another page, that gives prospective rehabilitation patients contact information for treatment of their drug problem. This includes one telephone number and two websites.

However, the LADPH page regarding "harm reduction" is roughly ten times as long, with extensive verbiage explaining how this is "an evidence-based public health approach that aims to reduce the negative consequences associated with substance use." Harm reduction includes "Syringe service programs, Providing medications for addiction treatment (MAT), Peer programs, Safe consumption sites and more." It is unclear if the "more" would include counseling and referral to drug addiction programs that would wean the individual off the dangerous substances they are administering to themselves - with the help of the County Health Department. If so, these programs are not listed on the webpage - no website addresses, no phone numbers, nothing.

There is, however, a link to a "Joint Statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and City of Santa Monica Regarding Harm Reduction Services." This statement is featured prominently in several areas of the county website. Santa Monica appears to be the only city to have publicly declared agreement with the county's program to distribute free needles and other paraphernalia in public parks.

Congratulations to Santa Monica.

There are approximately 29 "hubs" for "Engagement and Overdose Prevention" and shown on a map on the Harm Reduction page. Meanwhile, there are all of 6 CORE centers - places to connect for opportunities to recover - listed on another, buried page on the website.

Allow us to do what the county did not. Here is information for those who wish to recover from their drug addiction:

There are several ways to access Substance Use Disorder treatment in Los Angeles County including:

Call the 24/7 Substance Abuse Service Helpline (SASH) at 1 (844) 804-7500 to speak with health professionals who will assess and link to a treatment provider.

Locate and contact a treatment provider using the Service & Bed Availability Tool (SBAT).(

Visit one of the Connecting to Opportunities for Recovery and Engagement (CORE) Centers ( located throughout Los Angeles County to learn about Substance Use Disorders and speak to a substance use counselor about accessing treatment.


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