The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) recently released a report on Los Angeles County titled “Los Angeles County, Sentinel Community Site (SCS), Drug Use Patterns and Trends, 2018.” Below you will find the highlights of this report.

To read the full report, you can download a full pdf version here:  Los Angeles County Sentinel Community Site (SCS) Drug Use Patterns and Trends (2018) - Report

By Mary-Lynn Brecht, Ph.D. UCLA School of Nursing and UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs

  • Continuing increases were reported in treatment admissions and National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) reports for methamphetamine (highest of any substance in these indicators at 31% and 47%, respectively); little change occurred in medical examiner toxicology cases; methamphetamine was the second most frequently identified drug; a slight decrease was seen in poison control calls with rates remaining low (4%).
  • Increases across indicators were reported for fentanyl, but levels remained generally low. NFLIS reports of fentanyl seizures more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 (to a still low rate of 0.6%); toxicology cases from the medical examiner data showed an increase (to 182 cases, from 115 in 2016). Bulk fentanyl was introduced on the street for wholesale purchase in late 2017.
  • Local concern remains for heroin; however, indicator trends were mixed. NFLIS reports increased (but remained at a lower-than-national rate of 8.2%); and poison control calls increased (but at a low rate of 2.0%). Heroin treatment admissions were at a relatively high level (28%) but declined from 2015–2016 levels.
  • Local concern remains for misuse of prescription/other opioids; however, trends were mixed across indicators. Opioid trends decreased for treatment admissions (low level of 3.8% in 2017), medical examiner toxicology cases, and for poison control center calls (13%). There was an increase in NFLIS reports (low level of 2.9%, including fentanyl).
  • Reports of emerging synthetics remained very low across available indicators