Long Beach Health Department Launches Substance Use Harm Reduction Program

Long Beach, CA – The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) has launched a new program that provides resources and supplies to Long Beach residents so that those who use drugs can minimize their risk of possible serious or deadly outcomes. This is part of a strategy called harm reduction—a set of practical strategies and ideas that aim to reduce the negative consequences associated with substance use.

“This vital program will expand community access to lifesaving medication and drug testing materials,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “We continue to take proactive steps to help those experiencing substance use issues and foster a safer, healthier community.”

The program offers community members access to naloxone, also known as Narcan, a life-saving medication used to counter opioid overdoses, as well strips that test for fentanyl and xylazine. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in California and the United States. Narcan, when used correctly, can reverse the effects of fentanyl. Xylazine, also known as tranq, is a tranquilizer only approved for use in animals, but is increasingly being found in the U.S. illegal drug supply and linked to overdose deaths. Xylazine can be life-threatening and is especially dangerous when combined with opioids like fentanyl. Narcan does not work against xylazine but xylazine test strips can detect the presence of the drug. Community members interested in receiving these resources can do so by submitting a request form through the Long Beach Health Department.

Community-based organizations can also receive fentanyl and xylazine strips by submitting a requestthrough the Long Beach Health Department. Community-based organizations can submit requests to receive naloxone through the California Department of Health Care Services’ Naloxone Distribution Project webpage.

“This program is important in reducing the negative consequences of drug use, including communicable diseases and overdose deaths, while providing education resources, and support,” said City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis.

To learn more about Harm Reduction and place orders for supplies, community members are encouraged to visit the Health Department’s Harm Reduction Program webpage.

In 2023, the Health Department was awarded funds from 2022 opioid settlements (Opioids Litigation | State of California – Department of Justice – Office of the Attorney General) to create and develop activities that aim to reduce the effects of the opioid epidemic in Long Beach. With these funds, the Health Department will coordinate a collaborative response to reduce negative outcomes from substance misuse by providing educational opportunities, implementing harm reduction techniques, offering substance use disorder treatment, and addressing health inequities.