County Establishes U-C.A.N. Program to Fight Growing Opioid Epidemic

On a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and coauthored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors established the U-C.A.N. (Conquer Addiction Now) working group to specifically examine drug overdoses and deaths related to opioids in Los Angeles County.   The working group will develop a mechanism for programs and services locally that allow people with substance abuse disorders to report to safe locations to receive immediate help, including transport to withdrawal management and treatment facilities.

“It is incumbent upon the County to be aware of the growing opioid epidemic and to work collaboratively to reach vulnerable populations,” said Barger.

According to the Department of Public Health, drug overdose was the fourth leading cause of premature death in Los Angeles County in 2013.  There were nearly as many drug overdoses as there were motor vehicle crashes. A coroner-based surveillance system used to monitor drug-related deaths reported that between 2000 and 2009 there were 8,265 drug related deaths in Los Angeles County.

While many may often associate drug abuse and drug overdose with younger individuals, a recent bulletin from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reported that 2.7 million Americans over the age of 50 abused pain killers, and in 2015 one-third of all Medicare patients, nearly 12 million older adults, were prescribed opioid pain killers.

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