After record-breaking numbers of accidental overdose deaths in May, San Francisco experienced a reprieve in June with a 32% drop in fatalities, according to recently released public data.
However, the city still faces an uphill battle, because fentanyl is still responsible for most of the deaths, the data shows. Health officials also say that fentanyl is continuing to infiltrate other street drugs.
As for numbers: June saw 53 reported overdose deaths. Compared to the 78 recorded in May, that’s a 32% decline. But 44 of the 53 June deaths were from fentanyl. (The next highest cause was meth, with 29 deaths.)
This June saw the second-lowest fatal overdose numbers of the year, compared to February's 52. (January had 83, March had 68, April had 72, and May had 78.)
Dr. Hillary Kunins, the director of behavioral health services at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said that “fentanyl's entry into the drug supply is a game-changer," during a recent update, as the Examiner reported.
"The introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which are more dangerous and addictive, has brought this crisis to both our country and city,” she added.
The city has had 406 total accidental overdose deaths this year. Efforts to fight the drug crisis have reportedly involved expanding treatment options for those grappling with addiction and access to medications like methadone and buprenorphine. Additionally, the city has introduced more mobile sites in "highly impacted communities" to reach vulnerable populations.
As we previously reported, the city has published data on the number of accidental overdose deaths every month since the beginning of 2020. The first year, 2020, saw the most overdose deaths, with 725 deaths, followed by 2022’s 647 and 2021’s 640. But halfway through the year with 406 deaths, the city could still hit a bleak record of more than 800 overdose deaths by the end of 2023.
Feature image via City of San Francisco.