Data from the SF Medical Examiner’s Office shows that the city has 268 recorded accidental drug overdose deaths from January through April (the most recent numbers) in 2023.
That’s 72 more deaths than this time last year, as KRON4 reported. In April alone, 66 people died from an accidental overdose, reportedly marking the deadliest start to a year since 2020.
Fentanyl has played a major role in this year's fatal overdose numbers— the vast majority (211 of those 268, according to city data) have had it in their systems. But the city also tracked which other drugs — including heroin, medicinal opioids, methamphetamine, and cocaine — were in their systems. Meth and cocaine were the next two most common.
The city has published data on the number of accidental overdose deaths every month since the beginning of 2020, and the latest preliminary numbers were released Friday, according to the Examiner. The first year, 2020, saw the most overdose deaths, with 725 deaths, the Examiner reported, followed by 2022’s 647 and 2021’s 640.
That brings the total of overdoses since the beginning of 2020 to now to 2,280, by our calculations. Fentanyl alone in that time period is responsible for 1,665 of those fatalities, according to the Examiner.
Compare both those numbers to the reported 1,205 COVID-19 deaths the city has seen in that same time period.
The Examiner crunched these numbers, and found that if the first four months of this year are any indication, SF could see around 800 overdose deaths by the end of 2023.
That would put the total of deaths for the past four years since record-keeping began at about 2,800.
Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at UCSF, told the Chronicle last month that this year's overdose numbers have been "an enormous rise,” and that they show "an utter lack of adequate public policy.”
CHP officers were deployed at the end of April to help curb open-air drug dealing and arrest dealers in the Tenderloin. (About 25% of the overdoses this year took place in the Tenderloin alone, city data showed.)
The one controversial "supervised consumption" site in the city, the Tenderloin Center, closed in December 2022 after less than a year in operation. It had cost the city $22 million, permitted on-site drug use, and helped reverse around 300 overdoses.
RELATED: With Over 200 Overdose Deaths In SF So Far This Year, 2023 May Be the Worst Year Yet For the Fentanyl Crisis [SFist]
Feature image of fentanyl pills via DEA.