San Diego is Overburdened with Fentanyl and the Toll is Devastating

san diego fentanyl burdened city

Fentanyl seizures at border continue to spike, according to the U.S. Department of Justice making San Diego a national epicenter for fentanyl trafficking. According to the DOJ release, more deadly fentanyl is being seized by border officials in San Diego and Imperial counties than at any of the nation’s 300-plus ports of entry, making this federal district an epicenter for fentanyl trafficking into the United States.

High Schools are Reporting Ever-Increasing Fentanyl Deaths

The San Diego Union Tribune reported recently about a California high school that made arrests after a student overdosed on fentanyl pills on campus during school. Notably the perpetrator used social media to market the pills.  Using social media channels (like Snapchat) to market fentanyl laced pills is increasingly common, especially among teens, and often with predictably tragic effects

Fentanyl is Hyper-Potent and Deadly

Researchers have sounded an alarm for the past few years about the rise in overdose deaths involving fentanyl. The majority of overdoses now involve the drug, which is 50-100 times as powerful as Morphine. Overdoses that involve fentanyl are usually deadlier because of the potency of the drug.

For people who have an opioid use disorder, there are many risks to take when buying drugs. Regular drug supply chains are strained, and China has outlawed the manufacture of oxycodone (aka Oxycontin) and fentanyl. Because of this, chemists that rely on illicit drug sales have been offering fentanyl either as an adulterant or alternative to other opioids. Chinese drugmakers funnel fentanyl through the Mexico border, and from there, it makes its way into heroin, Oxy, and other street (and internet) drug dealers.

FENTANYL OVERDOSES ARE GETTING YOUNGER

Roneet Lev, an emergency room physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California, told Bloomberg that most of the overdose deaths she’s seen in teens are accidental overdoses. One of her young patients, 14 years old, died from a fentanyl overdose.

“The problem is both supply and demand,” she said. “There’s already a lot of fentanyl coming into our market, and now we have a pandemic where people are isolated and not working, or not in school. These teenagers probably don’t have a substance use disorder, they’re experimenting, making a bad choice, and they end up dead.”

EDUCATION AND PREVENTION EFFORTS

Many cities and nonprofits say that harm reduction is an integral part of tackling the opioid epidemic. After all, many of the young people who are dying don’t even mean to take fentanyl. They often believe they’re taking a pill such as Percocet, Adderall, Ecstacy, etc. It may be the first time they have ever taken a drug at all.

Many law enforcement agencies are trying to get the word out about counterfeit pills and the dangers of fentanyl.

Some nonprofits offer fentanyl testing strips as a harm reduction measure that can test drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Then, the user can decide if they want to take it or flush it. Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, is also available to people who use opioids and other concerned community members. Carrying this drug can help reverse fatal overdoses, but when it’s a drug like fentanyl, reversal may require multiple doses of Narcan.

STAYING SOBER IN SOBER HOUSING

If you or somebody you love needs a safe living space to continue their recovery journey, sober housing may be the answer. We have an excellent, enthusiastic, peaceful environment where you can learn to live life on its terms, substance-free. Call us to learn more about our programs at 760-216-2077. Our treatment team is also very familiar with recovery from fentanyl and other opioids.

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