The Opioid Crisis has been a big problem in this country ever since the pharmaceutical companies in the 1990’s claimed that opioids were non-addictive pain relievers; consequently, healthcare providers started commonly prescribing opioids to patients at greater rates. By 2017, HHS officially concluded that opioids were, in fact, addictive. But it was already too late, and over 10.1 million people have misused opioids in 2019 alone. To make matters worse, the COVID epidemic hit, and people were suffering from mental conditions such as depression and anxiety; the majority of past opioid users turned back to opioids in 2020, 10.9% of them being adolescents.
This situation has particularly exacerbated in the community of Los Angeles, especially the downtown area of Westlake, Harvard Heights, and Koreatown. The demographic shows that more than half (53%) of the opioid addiction doesn’t come directly from doctors, but from leftover drugs from households of friends/relatives.
The sad reality is that the people in this community – especially teenagers – are vulnerable to opioids that are simply lying around households. To solve this problem, I have teamed up with a non-profit organization named Save Our Society (SOS) in order to educate the public about this vulnerability. I am also working on a campaign to collect drugs from the community and safely dispose of them with the DEA. It took a long time for me to get the attention of the LAPD, and I am very thankful for Sheriff Castro, Officer Orlanes, Officer Barragan, and the LAPD in helping me with my project. My long-term goal (going beyond the span of this summer) with the DEA and SOS will be to expand this campaign from Los Angeles, throughout California, to the entire country. For now, we have two seminars scheduled for next week which are open to the public. We should never forget that change comes from the small things that we do for our community.
Finally, I want to show gratitude towards the CSGC for this amazing opportunity.
-Kevin Kim ’23
SAPC. SAPC Data Brief, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, Mar. 2019, publichealth.lacounty.gov/sapc/MDU/MDBrief/OpioidBriefFinal.pdf