The Los Angeles County Public Health Department reports that admissions to publicly funded substance abuse treatment programs for opioid abuse almost doubled betweeen 2005 and 2010, but treatment admissions for heroin abuse are going down in the region. “There are concerning trends, but the opioid epidemic hasn’t touched L.A. County the way it has other parts of the country,” the department’s Gary Tsai tells the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. He cited increases in emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to opioid use.
Anecdotally, the local drug of choice is meth, says Alejandra Gandarilla of the L.A. County Drug Court program. The court is seeing positive results using a wraparound-type treatment model. Parents who lose custody for drug- or alcohol-related offenses are typically ordered to a six-month treatment program. The Drug Court, one of more than 600 publicly funded treatment programs in L.A. County, is a voluntary, more intensive 12-month option that boasts a higher success rate than the six-month program. Drug Court participants must attend hearings monthly or bimonthly with their entire team being present in order to continue their support, Gandarilla says. Each participant’s team includes a social worker, a substance abuse counselor, the client’s attorney, the minor’s attorney, and a hearing officer.