Fentanyl-Related Deaths Hit Rural California Communities

Fentanyl-Related Deaths Hit Rural California Communities

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths are hitting California hard, but more rural areas are now seeing the impact of the deadly drug, not just heavily populated urban regions.

Drug overdose fatalities have gone up 45% in the state from 2020 to 2021, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the deaths are not just happening in San Francisco. Rather, fatalities involving the drug have gone up in more rural regions, as well.

The outlet examined preliminary data from the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, which revealed how fentanyl overdose deaths are impacting rural communities.

Six people in Butte County died of an overdose related to fentanyl in 2020, with that number jumping to 42 in 2021, according to the Chronicle. Shasta County saw seven fentanyl overdose deaths in 2020 and 41 in 2021. In 2019, only six of the 18 opioid overdose fatalities in Shasta were related to fentanyl. Sutter County had 20 deaths in 2021, contrasted with four in 2020. In Madera County, 14 people died of fentanyl-involved overdoses in 2021, up from three in 2020.

Fentanyl-related deaths in the state totaled 5,722 in 2021, compared to 1,603 such deaths in 2019 and only 82 in 2012, according to KCRA. In 2021, people between 30 and 34 years old experienced the most fentanyl-related fatalities.

“The primary reason for the rapid increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in California is that fentanyl has become more available in the drug supply in our state,” authorities with the California Department of Public Health said, according to KCRA.

In San Francisco, the city recently saw a drop in drug overdoses in 2021, but it is still a major issue in the area. Last year saw an 11% drop in fatal opioid, cocaine, or methamphetamine-related overdoses from 2020. However, the number is still 41% over 2019 numbers.

Of the overdoses in San Francisco, 75% include fentanyl, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

“The Substance Use Trends report compels us to do more citywide to alleviate the overdose crisis in San Francisco’s communities and save more lives,” Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax, said. “Our new strategic overdose plan builds on the progress that’s been made and pushes our public health response forward by defining our goals and public health strategies that will make the most impact. This also requires a ‘whole city’ approach to working together to support people who use drugs and lower their risks in every way possible.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently discussed the situation in a press release but did not mention the border crisis as part of the reason for the deadly increase.