The California State Legislature passed SB 57 on August 1, a bill to pilot overdose prevention programs in the city and counties of Los Angeles and San Francisco and the city of Oakland. The pilot program will last five years, until January 1, 2028.
Once signed by the Governor, the act will allow these localities to pilot the installation of Overdose Prevention Programs (OPP), an evidence-based public health intervention. Places will be established to allow people to use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained professionals, who work to prevent and treat overdose, prevent HIV infection and hepatitis and facilitate access to the evidence-based drug treatment and other services.
These jurisdictions have continued to see overdose rates rise at alarming rates, disproportionately in communities of color, and there is a desperate need to provide community members who use drugs a safe space where they can seek support without judgment, coercion or discrimination
Victory for harm reduction activists
The passage of SB 57 is a victory made possible by years of support from the Drug Policy Alliance and other co-sponsoring organizations that collaborate with people with lived experience; families directly affected by the overdose crisis; harm reduction experts; community service providers; health and treatment advocates and professionals; and county, city, and state elected officials who have requested authorization to implement and evaluate overdose prevention programs in their respective jurisdictions.
The bill was authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, along with other co-sponsoring organizations, including the California Society of Complementary Medicine (CSAM), GLIDE, HealthRIGHT 360, California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives. In response, Senator Scott Wiener, the Drug Policy Alliance and other co-sponsoring organizations of SB 57, and supporting organizations released the following statements:
“This is incredibly long. In 2021 alone, California lost more than 10,000 residents to the overdose crisis, and we continue to see it disproportionately claim the lives of people of color across the state. Passing SB 57 and by embracing this cost-evidence-based public health intervention, the Legislature is making it abundantly clear that saving lives is their priority,” said Jeannette Zanipatin, California State Director of the Policy Alliance of Drug. “With countless lives hanging in the balance, we urge Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law without delay, so that we can adequately address this crisis through the implementation of Overdose Prevention Centers and begin providing people with the support what they need.”
“California — like our nation as a whole — is experiencing a dramatic and preventable increase in overdose deaths, and we need every tool available to help people stay alive and stay healthy,” the senator said. Vienna. “Safe consumption sites are a proven model to help people avoid overdose deaths, reduce the transmission of HIV and hepatitis, reduce needle litter, and help people access treatment. legislation is not about whether we want people to use drugs. Rather, it is a recognition that people *are* using drugs, and our choice is whether we want to make every effort to help them survive and be healthy. time for California to adopt this proven overdose death prevention strategy.”
Overdose a ‘leading cause of accidental death’
“In California, overdose has been the leading cause of accidental death every year since 2011. Overdose prevention programs, authorized by Senate Bill 57, are widely proven to produce positive outcomes for people who use drugs . California must follow the science. These evidence-based public health interventions prevent overdose deaths, connect people to dignified services, increase access to treatment, and are extremely effective. GLIDE is proud to co-sponsor the Bill 57 of the Senate, and we are very grateful for the leadership of Senator Scott Wiener, as the bill has now passed the Legislature. We hope that Governor Gavin Newsom will quickly and enthusiastically sign the bill, and allow San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles to pilot and evaluate these powerful and life-saving interventions,” said Miguel Bustos, Senior Director of the GLIDE Center for Social. Justice.
“When Governor Newsom signs this bill into law, it will not only save countless lives from unnecessary death, but also create a treatment pathway for thousands of Californians for whom there is currently little hope of recovery,” said David Kan, MD, past president of the California Society of Additional Medicine (CSAM).
“HealthRIGHT 360 commends the California State Legislature for passing Senate Bill 57, which authorizes Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco to pilot Overdose Prevention Programs. As we enter Overdose Awareness Month, as we continue to remember so many lives of family members and friends lost to overdoses, one of the biggest and most immediate actions Governor Newsom can take to honor these lives and address the national overdose crisis is to sign SB 57 into law,” said Vitka Eisen, CEO, HealthRIGHT 360.
“It is time for California to join the long list of places in the world that offer lifesaving overdose prevention programs. OPPs have a strong research base and reduce the transmission of HIV and ‘hepatitis, keeps people alive, does not increase crime in the areas around the sites, and reduces needle litter. These programs are just one of the tools we need to address the epidemic of the Disorder of l “Substance use and provide critical services to those who need these life-saving harm reduction services. We urge Governor Newsom to sign SB 57,” said Robb Layne, Executive Director, CA Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, Inc. .
“The fight to end overdose in California must include all evidence-based strategies and interventions. Overdose Prevention Projects are proven to save lives. Harm Reduction programs in three California cities are ready to implement these programs now and begin to reduce unnecessary death. The National Harm Reduction Coalition calls on Governor Newsom to act now by signing SB 57 into law,” said Laura Guzman, Sr. Director of Capacity Building & Community Mobilization with the National Harm Reduction Coalition.
“We thank the legislature for supporting SB 57 and putting people’s needs first, highlighting the science and sending a clear message that overdose prevention programs should be piloted in California. As drug reduction workers damage on the front lines, we witness firsthand the devastation of overdose death due to stigma and isolation. Overdose death is preventable. We urge the community to insist that no more people die. All eyes are on on you, Governor Newsom, we urge you to sign SB 57 to prioritize saving lives,” said Soma Snakeoil, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Sidewalk Project.
“Overdose Prevention Centers have a long proven history of working to save people’s lives. In 35 years, there has not been a reported overdose death in these areas. Yet our people are dying, and l “OPCs are the solution to negate this public health emergency. Today we are one step closer to helping our participants stay alive,” said Elham Jalayer, Harm Reduction Program Manager for Bien Estar.
“The overdose crisis has claimed the lives of 100,000 people across the country and more than 1,000 lives in Los Angeles. The loss of life is huge, we need to find a way to keep people safe and alive and programs overdose prevention programs have proven to do this. There are more than 100 OPCs in the world. Countries that open them, actually open more. Why? Why do they work. California needs safe consumption sites in areas at the highest risk now,” said Dr. David Goodman-Meza, Assistant Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Build momentum for better drug treatment
California is following in the footsteps of New York City, which opened the nation’s first two Overdose Prevention Centers last year. Since the sites opened in December 2021, they have already reversed more than 300 overdoses.
Overdose Prevention Centres, also known as safer consumption areas or supervised consumption sites, have been operating in Europe since the 1980s and in Canada since 2003 – there are now almost 200 sites operating in the whole world. These sites have been rigorously evaluated and are proven to prevent and reduce overdose deaths among clients, increase client enrollment in drug treatment services, reduce the hassles associated with public injection, such as Discarded needles and public intoxication, and save public resources. Millions of injections have taken place in some of them, but not one death by overdose has been documented in these facilities.
The push for safer consumer spaces is growing across the country, with a bill to establish pilot centers in Rhode Island becoming law last year, and the move in Philadelphia, King County in Washington State , and Maryland, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts all introducing legislation to approve it. the sites. Beyond academic research, a growing body of editorial commissions and opinions have highlighted the need: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Albany Times-Union, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun, Seattle Times, Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, New Jersey Star-Ledger, and the Boston Globe.
Co-sponsors represent public health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment professionals, addiction medicine practitioners, people who use drugs, harm reduction advocates, and policy drug abusers, and HIV and hepatitis C service providers. SB 57 focuses on the urgent need for these life-saving programs in the wake of the nation’s growing overdose crisis, which kills more people than traffic accidents, combined murders and suicides.
About the Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are based on science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put in their bodies, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no longer. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at drugpolicy.org.