Fentanyl Took Their Friends’ Lives, So This Student Group Stepped In
Fentanyl is killing a lot of people. There were 1,504 accidental overdose deaths in 2021 in L.A. County.
I hope that statistic grabbed you.
I’m going to be real; I’m not hearing enough people talk about it even though we’re in crisis mode right now. Public officials call it endemic. We’ve reported on the overdose deaths and emergencies that middle and high school students have suffered. Adults have also OD’d on the drug.
TACO Is Using Harm Reduction To Help
Before the fentanyl crisis stirred city and county officials to act, a group called TACO began practicing harm reduction to keep more people safe.
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TACO, which stands for Team Awareness Combatting Overdose, was started by a group of neuroscience students from USC when there weren't a lot of educational or harm reduction resources available. They were moved to act after a friend and fellow student died from an accidental fentanyl overdose. It is now a nonprofit that operates at several college/university campuses across the United States.
“Fentanyl isn't going away anytime soon, but the way we respond to it is what we can change,” says Isabella Gianatiempo, the 22-year-old co-founder of the group.
They focus on many things, including handing out Narcan, or naloxone — which can prevent overdoses if administered quickly — and test strips that folks can use before they partake in drugs to see what’s in them. But what really can save lives is education; online or in-person workshops about how to use Narcan and how the body is impacted by some of these drugs.
I interviewed B, a college student in L.A., a few weeks ago about his accidental overdose with fentanyl when he tried some cocaine. (I’m not using B’s real name to protect his identity.)
B says he woke up in an ambulance with double-vision and severe nausea. “It was absolutely awful,” he remembers. The last thing he remembers before that was feeling sick. His friend quickly administered Narcan that he received from TACO — that’s what saved his life.
B now works with TACO on educating young folks about resources and urging students, including his friends, to use test strips and warn others about the crisis.
What sets TACO apart from other campaigns or resource centers, organizers don’t shame folks for using drugs.
Gianatiempo, the founder of the group, says her goal isn’t to condemn or encourage drug use. “It's simply just making sure that people can make the best choices for themselves.”
- Here’s where you can get test strips provided by TACO.
- If you want to read more about Narcan, here’s the CDC’s website.
PS: If you found this newsletter and episode helpful, please forward it to someone you know might need it or maybe start thinking about how you might talk to a loved one about the crisis.
As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below - just keep reading.
(After you stop hitting snooze)
- L.A.’s Ukrainian community is working together to support Ukraine from abroad. Russian Air Attacks have taken a toll on the country’s electrical grid so community members here sent out a truck fully stocked with generators and power banks that will be shipped overseas.
- L.A.’s housing market is still tough. A new survey shows that it couldtake over 11 years for the average Ageleno to save for a down payment. It’s twice as long as the national average. (KTLA)
- This year the Mojave Desert Land Trust added 7,000 acres to protected California lands. Most significant property is in Cadiz Valley.
- Orange County is getting a new Wildlife Preserve. Here's how it'll help a bunch of species, including some endangered shrimp.
- If you’re heading to the coastline during the holiday weekend you might catch some California King Tides. The California Coastal Commission is asking folks to send in photos when the King Tides splash the coast on Dec. 23 and 34 — find out how here.(San Clemente Times)
- Santa Ana and Orange County officials have shut down 100 street vendors in the city. They say the vendors were “selling food unfit for human consumption and operating without the proper health permit.” The closures come after SB972 was signed that would help local governments update their health food codes to include street vendors practices. (LA Taco)
- Starting January 1, companies with more than 15 employees will be required to include the pay range in job postings, as a result of a newly passed law. This comes in efforts to bridge the gender and racial pay gaps.
- Be prepared, holiday travelers, because dangerous winter weather may have an impact on your holiday trips. An arctic cold front is likely to cause flash-freeze road conditions in the central and southern plains regions of the U.S.
- Following the results of a Twitter survey, Elon Musk has pledged to step down as the CEO of Twitter, once he finds a replacement.
- The Oscar shortlists are out and here are the best shows and movies of 2022 that you have to watch before the year ends!
*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!
Wait... One More Thing
Celebrating The Holidays With Food From All Over The World
There’s always ONE thing I can look forward to during the holiday season: food. I think we can all agree on that?
Well, we wanted to share a little bit of what our colleagues eat for their holiday traditions. Tamales, bibingka, British mince pie, and others are part of our list that capture the flavors of Angeleno communities. There’s savory, sweet, and some of these foods go year round and just add a special touch during the holidays.
I learned something new reading this list. Like, British mince pie is like the PSL of Britain — “they’re only available for a limited time,” says Senior Editor Suzanne Levy.
Check out our full list here.