Monday, January 30, 2023

More than 150 people die in the United States each day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. The issue has hit close to home, with 529 fentanyl deaths in the South Bay between 2016-2021, including 114 young people under age 25, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. One teen was from Hermosa Beach.

To raise awareness about fentanyl – which can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin – and other synthetic opioids and the dangers they bring, the Beach Cities Partnership for Youth Coalition is hosting a free, in-person Community Forum on Fentanyl Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Redondo Union High School Auditorium starting at 5:30 p.m.

The Partnership for Youth Coalition is comprised of Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), South Bay Families Connected, the Hermosa Beach City School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Redondo Beach Unified School District and hundreds of local partners, including young people, parents, businesses, health care professionals, law enforcement and more. The Coalition strives to deliver programs that measurably improve the health and well-being of students and families in the Beach Cities.

The Community Forum on Fentanyl will include a screening of “Dead on Arrival,” a documentary about fentanyl by filmmakers Dominic Tierno and Christine Wood, followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Moe Gelbart of the Thelma McMillen Center at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Sebastian Martin of New Life House, and Chief Paul LeBaron of the Hermosa Beach Police Department.

In the wake of the teenager’s overdose in 2020, Hermosa Beach Police arrested five individuals and obtained 2,400 pills, 1,400 of those testing positive for fentanyl. At the time, Chief LeBaron told the city “our community is not immune from the current epidemic of opioid overdoses.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most recent fentanyl-related overdose cases are “linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.”

The CDC adds “drugs may contain deadly levels of fentanyl, and you wouldn’t be able to see it, taste it, or smell it. It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl unless you test your drugs with fentanyl testing strips.”

The Community Forum is free and open to parents, caregivers and teens throughout the South Bay. Please register in advance at . Due to the sensitive nature of the film and its subject matter, parents and guardians are advised to use discretion with regard to children viewing the documentary.

In addition to its work with the Beach Cities Partnership for Youth Coalition, BCHD is also the lead agency for allcove Beach Cities, a newly opened youth wellness center in Redondo Beach offering mental health and substance use prevention services including access to naloxone, an opioid antagonist medication used to reverse an opioid overdose.
WHAT: Community Forum on Fentanyl
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023; 5:30 – 7 p.m.
WHERE: Redondo Union High School Auditorium, One Sea Hawk Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
WHO: Dr. Moe Gelbart, Executive Director, Thelma McMillen Center at Torrance Memorial
Chief Paul LeBaron, Hermosa Beach Police Department
Sebastian Martin, Director of Recovery at New Life House
Shana Martinez, Clinical Manager, allcove Beach Cities (moderator)