If overdose deaths continue at their current rate, there should be 182 such deaths by year’s end. That’s up from last year’s death count of 133 and the prior year’s overdose deaths of 114.
This latest calculation comes courtesy of Sheriff Bill Brown, now leading the charge for an anti-opioid campaign he launched a few months ago dubbed Project Opioid. According to Brown, there have been 91 overdose deaths during the first six months of this year.
Half of those deaths, Brown said, are attributable to fentanyl, a synthetically made opioid said to be 50 times more powerful that morphine and 100 times more powerful than heroin. It’s also considerably more deadly and addicting. Fentanyl is sold in various forms, often in the guise of such prescription pharmaceuticals as Xanax and OxyContin. It is also frequently laced in street drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. With sufficient quantities of fentanyl, the body stops breathing and absorbing oxygen.
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Brown said the new stats underscore the urgency behind a campaign he announced amid his successful reelection effort earlier this year. Aside from a widespread messaging campaign, Brown said it’s his hope to distribute Narcan — a drug used to revive overdose victims — as widely as possible.
“When you go into any public building, I want you to see a fire extinguisher, an AED (machine used in event of heart attacks), and Narcan,” he said. “I want Narcan to become as common as fire extinguishers.”
Currently, Pacific Pride is distributing drug test strips so that those using drugs recreationally can determine whether the drugs they’re taking are cut with fentanyl. In addition, Brown envisioned a public media campaign with buses adorned with “billboards” proclaiming, “Fentanyl Is Forever” or “One Pill Can Kill.”
Correction: Project Opioid, not Operation Opioid, is the correct name of the sheriff’s anti-opioid campaign.