The City of West Hollywood hosted a Substance Use and Harm Reduction Town Hall Forum on Wednesday at the City’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, to discuss overdose prevention and fentanyl, methamphetamine, and xylazine. The Town Hall Forum is presented in partnership with APLA Health; Institute for Public Strategies (IPS); and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) program.
The Town Hall Forum is now available for viewing on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube channel www.youtube.com/wehotv and on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Roku streaming platforms by searching for “WeHoTV” using search functions.
The aim of the Substance Use and Harm Reduction Town Hall Forum is to provide information about the current landscape of substance use in West Hollywood and Los Angeles with a focus on fentanyl, opioids, stimulants, methamphetamine, and the emerging presence of xlyazine, which is commonly known as tranq. The Town Hall Forum will assure a non-judgmental, drug-forward, and sex-positive approach. The aim is for healthcare providers and people who use substances to have space for a constructive conversation about the epidemic of substance use and overdoses.
There will be a presentation by keynote speaker Dr. Siddarth Puri, Associate Medical Director of Prevention of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LA County Public Health).
Town Hall Forum Panelists includes:
- Isabella Rodriguez, Program Manager, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LA County Health Services), Harm Reduction Division;
- Neil Prehmus, Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselor;
- Timothy Zembek, Program Coordinator for the Syringe Services Program, Being Alive; and
- Jimmy Palmieri, Community Advocate and City of West Hollywood Human Services Commissioner.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Darwin Rodriguez, Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a health alert that warns residents of the increased rates of overdose and deaths associated with drugs laced with fentanyl and found in other drugs. Federal data shows that as of 2020 more than 60% of overdose deaths involving methamphetamine also involved an opioid. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, fentanyl is popping up in many drugs, but testing just for fentanyl could meet some other risks. Men who have sex with men who use methamphetamine, who are affected in high risk of overdosing.
Fentanyl is an addictive and deadly synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and it is a major contributor to overdose deaths in the United States. In Los Angeles County, accidental fentanyl overdose deaths have increased 1,280% from 109 deaths in 2016 to 1,504 deaths in 2021. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is used as an additive to counterfeit pharmaceuticals such as Xanax and Adderall, and street drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. Fentanyl can be lethal because people are often unaware that fentanyl is within the substances they are using.
A non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer named xylazine is emerging as another contributor to overdose deaths in the United States. Xylazine is also used as an additive in certain substances. People exposed to Xylazine, often unknowingly, have used it in combination with other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Xylazine can slow breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure to dangerously low levels and it is especially dangerous because, unlike with fentanyl, naloxone (Narcan) is ineffective at reversing a xylazine overdose.