Current Work and Effects of COVID-19

Dr. Banimahd is now the founder of several organizations and social media platforms to assist in the fight against addiction and the opioid epidemic. One is the Zephyr Medical group, which seeks to treat addiction as a chronic disease and takes a harm reduction approach. Another is the American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine, an intensive outpatient treatment which is non-profit and dedicated to mental health. Next he founded the Harm Reduction Institute, which is the first physician driven needle exchange program in the history of Orange County and has been documented to have saved 3,000 lives. The Harm Reduction Institute assists with insurance, housing sign ups, referrals and much more while entirely being run and driven by volunteers. Finally, Dr. Banimahd founded Project Sanctuary, an evidence based re-entry program to minimize recidivism and help marginalized populations.

Dr. Banimahd also has an addiction recovery channel on youtube which obtains around 140,000 views a month, as well as a Tik Tok account with over 20 million views. Through these channels, he educates patients about substance abuse and seeks to destigmatize substance abuse treatment. Dr. Banimahd believes that in order to have a meaningful impact, it is important to educate the public and the world. This can be done through involvement in an organization, educating colleagues, and gaining a deep understanding of harm reduction. Dr. Banimahd emphasized that understanding harm reduction at every level is essential, as a lot of people misunderstand its true meaning. Harm reduction has universal applications of autonomy of each individual of what they want and to be respected and receive the right care that they need, without judgement.

According to Dr. Banimahd, the COVID-19 pandemic stereotyped and further highlighted  the plight of marginalized populations, as they suffered much worse because of the pandemic. However, a good thing that came out of the pandemic was lax exceptions for substance abuse, as well as learning about dealing and understanding a patient through virtual mediums. During this time, Dr. Banimahd has honed his skills and developed ways to better treat patients in this new virtual environment.

Opioid Hero of the Month: September 2021

Dr. Faried Banimahd

Is there an Opioid Epidemic Hero in your community in Orange County? If so, let us know at!  We would love to include them in our series.

During this time Dr. Banimahd began to notice and realize how the clinical and formal care for substance abuse patients was subpar and could be greatly improved upon. This lack of proper care causes marginalized patients to be worse off and ultimately leads to poor outcomes. Dr. Banimahd also noted a callous attitude towards patients who came in for substance abuse and a lack of empathy for these patients' suffering. This inspired Dr. Banimahd to push for equal treatment of these patients, regardless of what they came in for. He sought to calm them down and nurture them as they (his patients) are humans with free will and choice.

Future Plans

Dr. Banimahd states that there are systemic and systematic barriers which affect OUD patients, such as social institutions/systems and mental health. To combat this, patients urgently need access to substance abuse treatment, clinics and hospitals need higher levels of knowledgeable workers, and we must remove the stigma of substance abuse to educate the general public on who these patients are. Thus, patients require higher quality and more access to good care and the care must be based on evidence. Ideally, it is necessary to create an advanced society where people can express themselves, prosper, and also have social services for them to utilize. Ultimately, social institutions must be created that feed into positive mental health and decrease substance abuse, with one cornerstone of it being education.

Dr. Banimahd would like to thank Monarch healthcare, as they have created an easy algorithm of flow for substance abuse patients to get treatment. Dr. Banimahd also wanted to shout out CalOptima/MediCal as they make it easy for patients to get medications they need, and are able to fill prescriptions using state funding. Finally, Dr. Banimahd would like to thank Mahan Naeim, Dr. San Bartolome, and Dr. Bharath Chakravarthy as well as all the volunteers working to fight against the opioid epidemic.

To learn more about Dr. Banimahd feel free to check out his Youtube channel here: .


For our next Opioid Hero of the Month, we have Dr. Faried Banimahd! Dr. Banimahd is a Medical Doctor, board certified in Emergency Medicine who spent most of his career in academic Emergency Medicine. Dr. Banimahd began as faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Kern School of Medicine and was the head of research prior to moving to Irvine. At the University of California, Irvine (UCI), School of Medicine Dr. Banimahd was recruited as an Assistant Clinical Professor, and later stepped away from academic medicine to pursue his other medical goals and aspirations. 

Dr. Banimahd’s journey towards substance abuse began during his time at UCLA. Toxicology is one of the subspecialties of Emergency Medicine and it was through Toxicology that Dr. Banimahd first encountered substances of abuse, such as heroin. The UCLA Kern county is highly underserved with many low income patients, and Dr. Banimahd enjoyed advocating for this community as he grew up with a belief in service towards human beings. It was here where he began the subset of managing patients addicted to heroin.