Tribal Nations Turn To Harm Reduction In Battle Against Opioids
A group of children from the Pala Band of Mission Indians was walking home from school in 2016 when they found a plastic bag holding 100 bright blue pills. The kids tossed the bag back and forth as they walked to the tribe’s youth center, where they turned it into the staff. The staff at the youth center quickly called law enforcement, who informed them the pills were fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. That same year, 16 youths from the Pala Band of Mission Indians died of opioid overdoses. For the California tribe — which has a population of around 1,000— the losses were a devastating sign that the opioid epidemic had gained footing in their community.