Meth Addiction Epidemic Complicating Homeless Relief Effort in L.A. County

Tents line the north side of Venice Boulevard under the 405 Freeway overpass in Los Angeles in this undated photo. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Tents line the north side of Venice Boulevard under the 405 Freeway overpass in Los Angeles in this undated photo. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

She was ravaged by drugs, a young woman turning old too soon. Her face was puffy and scabbed, her arms were scarred by needle marks, and an abscess the size of a kitchen sponge floated under tight skin near her elbow.

On Thursday morning in downtown Los Angeles, the 26-year-old brunet walked into a needle exchange program asking for help. She said she had spent most of the previous several weeks living in a car.

“I came here because I want to get clean,” said the woman, who told me she uses heroin and methamphetamine and had nearly died several days earlier from a fentanyl overdose. “It’s exhausting, trying to make money to do drugs, and then do it again and then get sick.”

Take her story and multiply by the thousands. Addiction and all its consequences are on full display in Los Angeles County, where the latest sprawl is measured in tents rather than houses. Drugs are a booming underground economy with open-air visibility, and nearly a third of homeless people report having either a serious mental illness, a substance abuse issue, or both.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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