(USNewsMag.com) – The number of overdose deaths in San Francisco climbed to a record high in August 2023.
The number rose from 74 in July to 84 in August, which is one of the single deadliest months for overdoses since the beginning of 2020, when the city began tracking overdose deaths. In 2020, San Francisco reported 725 deaths for the year. In 2021, that number fell before rising slightly in 2022 to 647. If the current pace of three fentanyl deaths per day holds, the city could see 845 overdose deaths this year.
Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said the crisis is “distressing.” Colfax stated that “based on prior data,” officials know about 80 percent of the overdose deaths are “due to fentanyl.”
According to San Francisco Director of Behavioral Health Hillary Kunins, 73,000 Naloxone doses have been handed out so far this year.
The increase in overdose deaths comes as some city and state officials try to control the fentanyl crisis the city is currently facing. Outreach services as well as treatment programs have been expanded. An overdose dashboard has also been launched by health officials. The dashboard will track overdose deaths, overdose 911 calls, and substance use services, including medications currently being used to treat addiction. The dashboard will be used as a way to help identify trends that will be used to help officials respond to the crisis.
Health officials in San Francisco have tried to deal with the crisis in many ways, some of which have been discontinued. For 11 months in 2022, a “safe consumption” site was operated in San Francisco that reversed 333 overdoses. However, it was closed after concerns arose over cost, community impact, and users not being connected with drug treatment programs.
In 2022, the crisis led to San Francisco Mayor London Breed declaring a “state of emergency” in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent the California Highway Patrol and the California National Guard to San Francisco to help with the crisis in April.
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