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 in 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 Walk into a needle exchange program asking for help. She said she had spent most of the previous weeks living in a car.
"I came here because I wanted 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 doing it again and then getting 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 having either a serious mental illness, a substance abuse issue, or both.
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