Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell called on new approaches to deal with rising opioid abuse.
“I think we all recognize we are simply not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said last Wednesday while speaking to a group of law enforcement officials.
“Law enforcement tried that in the 1980s when we experienced the flood of crack cocaine into our communities, and we ended up with crowded jails but not a lot of reduction in drug use.” McDonnell said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of overdose deaths jumped by as much as 20 percent in 2017, resulting in more than 175 drug overdoses per day across the country.
The crisis has gotten so bad in some states that health officials have trained civilians on how to handle an overdose and provide them with overdose kits.
In Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, library employees either have been trained or are set to learn how to use the drug naloxone to help reverse overdoses.
The drug is available without a prescription at CVS pharmacies throughout California, including Pasadena.
“I believe it starts with education and awareness,” McDonnell said.
In 2017, McDonnell issued more than 1,200 doses of the anti-opioid medication to deputy personnel at three patrol stations and two bureaus as part of the intervention pilot program.
In March, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) told an audience at Pasadena City College that the crisis has arrived in California.
Chu has authored the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act. The bill would authorize the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop best practices for sober living facilities.
“With the alarming rate of overdose fatalities related to illegal consumption and accidental exposure, the risk is too great not to consider other options to curb the tide of abuse,” McDonnell said.