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Harm-Reduction Outreach Saves Lives

The fentanyl epidemic has been a growing concern in many of the communities we provide services to through MHALA’s Homeless Outreach Program (HOP/E6). To help combat the high risk of overdose associated with fentanyl-laced opiates, our HOP/E6 team has been distributing NARCAN nasal spray and training people on its correct usage.      

Nearly 40 lives have been saved since July, when HOP/E6 began distributing NARCAN as part of a year-long harm-reduction grant from Los Angeles County. NARCAN nasal spray is the most commonly used brand of naloxone, a medicine that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids in minutes.   

Our team educates people on what an overdose looks like, how NARCAN works and the safe administration of NARCAN. Boxes of the nasal spray, along with instructions, are distributed in neon rescue bags that can be hung up so they are easy to locate when needed.  

“The chances of us rolling up when someone is overdosing is really small,” said Laurie Ramey, MHALA’s senior director of outreach and street medicine. “If we distribute NARCAN and show people how to use it, they can administer it to each other and save lives.”  

Getting more people into addiction treatment

During the same time period, HOP/E6 also helped 32 people successfully complete addiction treatment through a residential or outpatient treatment facility. This is significantly more than the 10-15 people HOP/E6 typically sees entering treatment.  

“Because we follow up with people and continue to provide support, we’re able to establish trusting relationships where people feel comfortable getting into treatment,” Ramey said.