Public Workshop Wednesday Night Educates Families About Deadly Opioid Crisis, Now in California

Published : Wednesday, March 28, 2018 | 5:05 AM


Congresswoman Judy Chu and a panel of clinical experts on drug addiction are coming together Wednesday night in Pasadena City College’s Creveling Lounge to give families potentially life-saving knowledge on how to combat the effects of the deadly opioid crisis which claims the lives of 115 Americans on average per day due to fatal overdoses.

Chu says the crisis has arrived in Southern California. She hopes to educate local families in detecting early signs of addiction and present networks of resources and treatments that are available at the local level.

“We are trying to inform the community about the ways to, first and foremost, spot the signs of addiction. This is a nationwide crisis and it is affecting Southern California,” said Chu.

Chu says she first became aware of this issue after Ryan Hampton, a Pasadena resident in recovery for addiction, approached her last year about his experience with opioid abuse.

The result of that meeting was H.R. 4684, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act. This bill would authorize the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop, for the first time ever, best practices for sober living facilities and provide technical assistance and support to states so that families can have confidence in the facilities that are looking after their loved ones, according to Chu’s website.

Last week, Hampton testified at the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Hearing on “Combating the Opioid Crisis” about lack of training and resources led to the death of his friend in a sober home, and the legislation he worked on with Chu to address the problem.

Hampton will moderate Wednesday’s workshop.

“He himself dealt with addiction and then is in recovery now but also is trying to make sure that others will be able to get the resources that they need in order to beat this crisis,” said Chu.

“ I’ve visited recovery facilities here and there are many young people who are trying to turn a new leaf over in their lives and are trying to beat addiction, but its hard,” added Chu.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and the 66 percent of drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.

In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids including prescription opioids and heroin was 5 times higher than in 1999. From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses.

“Sober living homes are a crucial part of recovery, but without proper resources and training, they can leave the people in need vulnerable to unethical operators who take their money but do not offer adequate help,” said Chu. “Families are struggling to build effective support systems so they can be free of addiction.”

The workshop will also focus on the topic of accessibility to Naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Naloxone binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.

Chu says this medication can play a major role in preventing overdose fatalities.

“Not having it is equivalent to an ocean liner not having lifeboats,” said Chu.

Participating workshop expert and CEO of Casa Treatment Center in Pasadena, Leah Rodemich, says the workshop is a beneficial resource for the community.

“I’m glad that they’re taking action and bringing recovery to the topic of conversation. The primary focus is to let people know that recovery is possible,” said Rodemich whose organization serves over 300 adult women per year of all ages, socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds, who suffer from substance abuse disorders and addiction.

Dr. Gary Tsai, From LA County Substance Abuse Prevention & Control (SAPC) will speak on Identifying Signs of Addiction in Loved Ones.

“There are a lot of resources, but over time it’s not easy to find information in a singular source these days. People need more assistance in order to know a direction to go. The reason is that it’s a crisis is because people are dying and I wish those people were getting into treatment,” explained Rodemich.

Workshop topics will include The Opioid Crisis and Identifying Signs of Addiction in Loved Ones by Gary Tsai, MD, FAPA, FASAM and Medical Director & Science Officer and Identifying and Reversing Overdose by Theo Krzywicki, Paramedic and Founder of End Overdose.

The Opioid Workshop: How to Help Loved Ones will kick off Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at PCC’s Creveling Lounge located at 1570 E Colorado Blvd.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP at

For more information, go to