Expanding Access to Substance Use Treatment in Los Angeles County Through Reaching The 95% Initiative

Expanding Access to Substance Use Treatment in Los Angeles County Through Reaching The 95% Initiative 1024 888 Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath


October 17, 2023

Los Angeles, CAToday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to connect LA County residents to available substance use treatment by expanding a new initiative called Reaching the 95% (R95) led by the Department of Public Health (DPH) Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control. Only 5% of people in need of drug treatment seek it, leaving a staggering majority of Angelenos without the essential care they need. Los Angeles County wants to change this by better reaching the 95% of people who need services but aren’t seeking them out while also lowering barriers to treatment.  

“Substance use disorder is a pervasive and treatable disease that is sometimes visible but too often invisible in our families, in our schools, and among vulnerable youth and our unhoused community,” said Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath. “Reaching the 95% seeks to bridge the gap to care for the majority of our community members struggling with substance use, who are not accessing the critical and necessary health and healing supports. Through our motion, we continue to expand access to drug treatment interventions and to meet the ever-growing need.” 

DPH has a one-stop resource for accessing treatment options and real-time bed availability at www.RecoverLA.org. This motion expands the R95 initiative to ensure Angelenos are aware of this tool, and to intentionally reach our most vulnerable youth, and in particular survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, and system impacted youth. It will also educate County staff and pertinent contracted providers, including homeless outreach providers and case managers. 

“Across Los Angeles County, we are in the midst of substance use and overdose crises impacting and taking the lives of so many,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “These crises have disproportionate impacts on our vulnerable residents, including those from communities of color, our youth, justice-involved residents, and people experiencing homelessness – and it breaks my heart that approximately 5% of people who need substance use services access them. I am grateful to co-author this motion with Supervisor Horvath in working with our Department of Public Health to better reach the 95% in need of assistance but not utilizing services.” 

“Amid the worst overdose crisis in history, it’s critical for communities to better engage the 95% of people with substance use disorders who aren’t yet interested in receiving treatment. To do that, we need to grow our services’ reach and attractiveness —from outreach and engagement to establishing low-barrier care. Fundamentally, the R95 Initiative is about ensuring that our systems are designed not only for those seeking help, but that they’re designed to engage those who aren’t yet seeking care,” said Dr. Gary Tsai, Director of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Bureau of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. 

A staggering 16% of people over the age of 12 in LA County are estimated to have had a substance use disorder in the last year. At the same time, we are seeing an unprecedented overdose crisis that is especially acute for people experiencing homelessness. Even in this context, only 5% of those in need of treatment are accessing it. R95 is focused on both increasing access to treatment and to shifting how services are offered so that they meet the 95% where they are. The goals of the initiative are: 

  1. Enhancing outreach and engagement, including through the expansion of field-based services; and 
  2. Lowering barriers to treatment through interventions such as broadening admissions criteria, narrowing discharge criteria, being intentional about creating a welcoming and inviting environment through a customer service lens, and establishing closer bidirectional referral relationships between harm reduction agencies that serve many of the 95% and SUD treatment agencies.  

For recovery resources, visit www.recoverla.org 


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