Five people were hospitalized, two of them in critical condition, after they all apparently suffered accidental overdoses inside a residence on Japantown's main drag on Christmas Day.
Details are thin about what happened at the residence on the 1700 block of Post Street Sunday — likely an apartment in one of the only (or the only?) residential complexes on that block, which is the main strip of Japantown including the Kabuki Cinema, half of the Japantown Mall, and mostly retail storefronts on the north side of the street.
The San Francisco Fire Department's public information officer, Captain Jonathan Baxter, would only confirm to the Chronicle that six individuals at the home were treated for accidental overdoses using Narcan, five of whom were taken to the hospital for further treatment — with one individual refusing further treatment. Two of the individuals hospitalized were reportedly in critical condition.
Paramedics and San Francisco police arrived on the scene around 2:20 p.m. on Christmas Day.
The group had apparently ingested cocaine laced with another drug, likely fentanyl, or a substance that was an opioid but they thought it was cocaine. The San Francisco Standard reports that a source at the CPMC Van Ness hospital confirmed that the individuals being treated had ingested a substance they believed to be cocaine — but the presence of fentanyl has yet to be confirmed.
The case is reminiscent of one that occurred in March in which three people died in a Mission District apartment after all doing cocaine together, which turned out to be contaminated with fentanyl. That case, and two others involving 9 other individuals who inadvertantly consumed fentanyl but survived, led to the Health Department issuing a citywide alert to be extra cautious about the source one's drugs, and to test them for fentanyl.
"Fentanyl overdoses have increased precipitously in San Francisco since 2015, with an estimated 474 deaths in 2021," the department said. "Fentanyl overdose deaths usually involve cocaine and/or methamphetamine."
Anyone using cocaine in this day and age should keep fentanyl-testing kits around — and they can be obtained for free around the Bay through the Friends of FentCheck network, and you can get them at the Community Behavioral Health Services (CBHS) Pharmacy at 1380 Howard Street, which also gives out free naloxone/Narcan.
“You never know what’s in your drugs,” said Kristen Marshall of the harm reduction org the DOPE Project, speaking to Broke-Ass Stuart. “The market is criminalized, so the supply is unregulated, inconsistent, and unpredictable. Always has been, fentanyl didn’t change that. Whether you cop from the corner of Turk and Hyde, or your dealer is just a text away and delivers discreetly to your door in Pac Heights, remember: This ain’t the cereal aisle at Safeway – no nutritional facts, no ingredients lists, and not a ton of choice. White powders all look the same, drug markets are chaotic, and mistakes happen.”
As KPIX reports, the Japantown incident is under investigation by the SFPD, which is trying to determine if anything criminal occurred.