Fentanyl overdoses played a large role in the sharp increase in the deaths of homeless people in Los Angeles County last year, according to a new report.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 926 homeless people died in the county in the first seven months of 2020, a 26% increase over the same period the previous year. Just under 30% of deaths in homeless people were caused by drug overdoses in 2020, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The presence of fentanyl in the mix of substances found in a person’s system more than doubled, to 41%. Overall, methamphetamine was the dominant substance contributing to deaths among homeless people. The drug was involved in almost two-thirds of those deaths.
The report made recommendations to reduce drug overdose deaths among the homeless population, including increased distribution of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Other recommendations include dramatically increasing the number of residential beds for treating substance use disorder, and increasing opportunities for diversion from jail to substance use treatment.