LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 26, 2019 • 07
or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol. One example is the high-proﬁle case of singer Demi Lovato, who was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center last July after she was found unresponsive in her Hollywood Hills home. LACFD paramedics administered Narcan to the then 25-yearold pop star, reviving her prior to transport. It was believed at the time that she had ODed on oxy that may have been laced with Fentanyl. As a drug 80 to 100 times more potent than heroin, Fentanyl may be classiﬁed as a weapon of mass destruction. “Fentanyl’s high toxicity and increasing availability are attractive to threat actors seeking nonconventional materials for a chemical weapons attack,” Assistant Secretary James F. McDonnell, Department of Homeland Security, wrote in a Feb. 22, 2019 internal memo to senior DHS and Defense Department officials asking them to consider classifying Fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. In Nov. 2018, DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon announced results of the National Drug Threat Assessment that outlined the threats posed to the U.S. by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs. “Of all opioids, the abuse of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has led to the greatest number of deaths in the United States,” the report said. “Fentanyl is increasingly available in the form of counterfeit prescription pills marketed for illicit street sales, and also sold by traffickers on its own, without the presence of other drugs.” On March 29, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times took aim at the Trump administration’s diverting billions of dollars away from the opioid crisis. “In 2017, the most recent year for which we have good data, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses,” The Times wrote. “Nearly 50,000 of those deaths involved opioids. New government data released this month show that a key driver of the overdose deaths in the last few years has been the spread of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has been mixed in with heroin and other illicit drugs. Extraordinarily potent, fentanyl is killing unwitting users in rapidly growing numbers.”
Fentanyl test strip Image from dancesafe.org
This prompted the West Hollywood City Council to vote on April 15 to proactively engage in “harm reduction” by making available Fentanyl test strips available to combat the problem.
“It’s important to target the casual user, as well as the addicts,” West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran tells the Los Angeles Blade. “In the 1980s, I was legal counsel to Clean Needles Now, part
of the efforts by ACT UP/LA to help in the prevention of spreading HIV.” Harm Reduction is “a much needed step in to addressing these deaths caused by Fentanyl-related overdoses,” he added. “We are doing this because WeHo is a hub for the LGBTQ community. This is a real public health emergency that has signiﬁcant impact on the 40% of our population who are LGBT,” he said. “People who are using—whether at a party or an event like the upcoming White Party or hook-ups on Grindr or other social events. They’re not expecting to use and then die,” Duran says. “We need to inform people as to the real dangers. They need to understand that even their casual party use can be lethal.” Rizzo concurs. “With a 45-second intervention rate, the only defense is to test the product before you use it.” Fentanyl Test Strips are available in every Center department and in all satellite locations, including Center WEHO. The City of WeHo recently gave the Center a grant for more test strips and this year the Center will do outreach at every Pride event. “We would like people to stock up before they attend these events and have them available for themselves or for friends who may choose to party,” Rizzo says. “If you do choose to party...party safer.” Even deadlier than Fentanyl is carfentanil, one hit of the drug the size of a speck of dust can kill, the DEA reports. “The DEA in San Diego County has issued an alert after three people have suffered documented fatal overdoses from a new form of the drug Fentanyl know as carfentanil,” CBS13 in Sacramento reported April 16. “It would only take 2 mg of the drug to cause a deadly overdose. Meanwhile, it would only take .02 mg of carfentanil to have the same fatal results.” This synthetic drug is so fast-acting it not only attacks the brain stem to interrupt breathing but also rapidly closes the esophagus so even Narcon might fail to act in time. The bottom line: freedom loving gay partiers these days must become as vigilant about their drugs as they are about scoping out the exits at a crowded gay bar. For more information about Fentanyl and the addiction services offered at the Center, please call 323-993-7448.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 17, April 26, 2019