San Francisco could potentially break its record for drug-related deaths, one year after it recorded its deadliest year for overdoses.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that between January and April of 2021, the city recorded 252 accidental overdose deaths. In the same time period a year prior, 181 accidental overdose deaths were recorded.
in 2020, San Francisco recorded over 700 drug overdose deaths, more than twice the amount of deaths it recorded due to the coronavirus.
If the number of overdose deaths continue at their current rate, San Francisco could see over 500 more deaths by the end of the year.
“Fingers crossed that overall, we don’t see a substantial increase in 2021 as we saw last year,” Phillip Coffin, Director of Substance Use Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told the Chronicle.
“We anticipated mortality to go up because that is exactly what’s happened everywhere that fentanyl has settled into,” Coffin said.
The Chronicle notes that although fentanyl is believed to be the main cause of the spike in overdose deaths, the number of deaths associated with other drugs — cocaine, heroin and medical opioids — has also been observed.
“It’s really easy to produce,” Coffin said of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. “It’s really potent. Your effect for your dollar is much, much better with fentanyl.”
According to Coffin, fentanyl is deadlier as well, with the potential to cause death within five minutes, while heroin takes at least 30 minutes.