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Fentanyl deaths in Santa Clara County on the rise

Picture of Narcan nasal spray.
Governor Tom Wolf
Flickr / Creative Commons
Picture of Narcan nasal spray.

Santa Clara County has been grappling with an alarming rate of fentanyl-related deaths for the past two years.

The county plans to distribute free Narcan kits through vending machines placed in jails, court buildings, high schools, colleges, hospitals, bars and restaurants, in hopes of keeping people alive.

According to county records, fentanyl-related deaths jumped from 11 in 2018 to 132 in 2021. Ninety-seven people have already died from fentanyl overdoses as of September, placing this year on track for another record. (This data is available at the Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner’s Coroner’s Office.)

San Jose has accounted for about two thirds of fentanyl-related deaths in Santa Clara County so far this year.

The county is using naloxone, also known as Narcan, to treat victims. It is a preventive measure, which can restore normal breathing to a person overdosing from opioids.

At a board meeting last week, supervisors voted unanimously to increase the county's behavioral health services department budget by about $4.5 million for mental health and substance abuse programs.

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