Experts fear that San Francisco might be hitting an epidemic of a fatal drug overdose. The Public Health Department has released data stating that there have been more than 300 deaths due to drug overdose in the city last year. Experts have said that this three-digit increase has been driven by the synthetic opioid fentanyl. This drug is more powerful than heroin and pure morphine. San Francisco had seen a short-lived decline with only 186 overdose deaths in 2016; however, it steadily increased with 222 deaths in 2017 and 259 deaths in 2018. The Health Commission has claimed that there have been at least 330 drug overdose deaths in San Francisco last year.
The director of substance research at the Department of Public health Dr. Phillip Coffin has said that deaths due to overdose of cocaine, meth, and opioids have been stable for the past 15 years. However, fentanyl has increased the death toll in recent years in San Francisco and other American cities. He has said that drug overdose deaths have escalated in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. Deaths due to overdose are generally driven by fentanyl. There have been nearly 162 deaths due to fentanyl overdose last year in San Francisco.
Authorities are trying to neutralize the effect of fentanyl’s potency by harm reduction tactic of getting people to smoke it rather than snorting as injecting fentanyl has the highest risk of fatal overdose. Health authorities are working round the clock to make overdose reversal drug naloxone accessible in the city to stabilize the effect of overdose. Nevertheless, there are experts, who do not promote harm reduction tactics. They believe that it creates a permissive culture of drug abuse and increases drug overdose fatality in the long run. Health officials are also promoting prescription of buprenorphine to bring down overdose deaths in the city. Meth related deaths are also on the rise, there had been at least 126 deaths related to meth in 2018.