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Coalition to Host Community Forum on Fentanyl

Feb 05, 2023 11:06AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Fentanyl-laced pills may appear in a variety of colors and shapes.

To raise awareness about fentanyl – a synthetic opioid that 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 on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Redondo Union High School Auditorium starting at 5:30 p.m.

Fentanyl is incredibly potent and potentially fatal. 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.

In Los Angeles County, accidental fentanyl overdose deaths ballooned 1,208% from 109 in 2016 to 1,504 in 2021.

The issue has hit even closer to home, with 529 fentanyl deaths in the South Bay between 2016-2021, including 114 young people under the age of 25, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

One teen who died was from Hermosa Beach.

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.”

The Feb. 9 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.

The community forum is free and open to parents, caregivers and teens throughout the South Bay. The public is encouraged to 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.

Fentanyl Is Potent, Addicting, Dangerous

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges and can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the United States.

However, most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects.

The CDC adds that “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."

An opioid overdose can be counteracted with naloxone (commonly known by its brand name Narcan), an opioid antagonist medication used to reverse or reduce the effects of opioids. Narcan is increasingly becoming widely available in public places.

In October, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to stock all county libraries with Narcan.

As of December 13th, 2022, all Manhattan Beach Unified School District locations have Narcan on-site for use if needed. All district nurses, health assistants, administrators, and the athletic director have been trained, with additional training available for interested employees.

South Bay Fentanyl and Opioid Resources

The beach cities - Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach - have a wide range of resources available for information and support on fentanyl and opioids.

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

Furthermore, South Bay Families Connected has a range of opioid resources available through its South Bay Families Connected Opioid Awareness Project. The page includes video interviews with South Bay community members who have lost a family member to opioid addiction, including Cyndi Strand of Manhattan Beach, who lost her son Justin to opioid addiction and later founded Blankets of Love South Bay.

Beach Cities Health District 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.

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