Huge number of people died from fentanyl overdoses last year. A record number of Californians died in 2017 after overdosing which is many times stronger than other prescription painkillers and heroin.
The California Department of Public Health gives count 746 people died. This is more than three times the 81 who died from overdosing on the drug in 2013. It is the highest number of Fentanyl related deaths. The state has seen since public health officials began tracking the numbers in 2008.
The spike in fentanyl deaths stands out because the number of deaths in California from opioid overdoses overall actually fell slightly, from 2,031 in 2016 to 1,882 in 2017. That is the lowest number of opioid overdose deaths the state has seen since 2011. The number of fentanyl deaths doubled from 11 in 2015 to 22 in 2016.
In the Bay Area, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties saw the highest numbers of fentanyl deaths. San Francisco and Contra Costa counties each reported 26 deaths, and Santa Clara reported 24, according to state data.
Fentanyl was used as legal drugs, such as prescription pain patches and epidurals. However, in recent years, it has started showing up more frequently in much higher doses, particularly in the Northeast United States, in the form of fentanyl-laced heroin, Xanax, cocaine and methamphetamine.
“This is a signal fentanyl as an illicit opioid has really arrived in California,” said Phillip Coffin, director of substance use research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
May Simmons was born and raised in Albuquerque. As a journalist, May has contributed to the Eastern New Mexico University school newspaper, NPR, and many other publications. In regards to academics, May earned a degree in business degree from A&N and earned her master’s degree at University of Florida. May covers local news and culture stories here at Roswell Gazette.