On August 31, 2023, Overdose LA along with non-profit initiative partner, Red Door Life, went to MacArthur Park for Overdose Awareness Day. The state of the park was dire, with homeless and addicted individuals scattered throughout. Dirty syringes and used Narcan spread all along the grass at the park. When we arrived, the community had put together several booths, dispensing harm reduction supplies, wellness kits and meals.
Within the first 30 minutes of arriving, I went to use the restroom with a Client and a homeless individual approached us and asked if we wanted to buy fentanyl from him. $3 for a “blue”. Blues, as they are known on the street, are counterfeit Oxys or Percocets that are purely made of fentanyl. We decided to redirect our restroom visit, under a bridge in the middle of MacArthur Park.
Our purpose for going to the park was to help individuals, just like the one who tried to sell us Fentanyl. The reason why we are there is to help the community and be of service. To help people realize that they are not alone in their most down times, someone is looking out for them. To inspire the notion that while we can’t always be sober, we can be safe. While it is true that for those in recovery there may be an element of risk related to us becoming triggered– ultimately having the higher purpose of being there for others provides a therapeutic outcome that supports recovery.
In the past, when I have shied away from certain places because they may be triggering, I did not have a successful outcome. By breaking that barrier, it removes the fear element. Knowing that I can go anywhere, do anything, or be around any type of person only makes my recovery stronger.
Harm Reduction in the truest sense, not only helps the individuals we are supporting but also supports the person in recovery.
This was just one of the many creative ventures in our harm reduction mission, and through these grassroots efforts and education we seek to create the change so desperately needed to help lift people up and ease the suffering in our world.
By Matthew Meakin, Founder of Overdose.LA IG: @odp.la