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Drug Overdoses Surging in San Francisco

Ken Lund
CC BY-SA 2.0
Market Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood. The Tenderloin has had 40% San Francisco's drug overdose reports despite only containing 7% of the city's population.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner recently published a report that shows drug overdoses are at an all-time high. This year, the City of San Francisco has recorded more than 400 deaths related to drug overdose. In July alone, 53 people died of drug overdose in the city. At this pace, the city may see a record number of overdoses by the end of 2021. Most of those deaths are attributed to fentanyl, a drug that is both cheap to produce and has a high potency. Those two factors create a higher profit margin for dealers while increasing risk of overdose.

The medical examiner’s data show that these overdose deaths disproportionately affect men and people over the age of 45.

Black San Franciscans have been particularly harmed. So far this year, Black residents have been almost six times more likely to die of accidental overdoses compared with any residents. Over 40 percent of the deaths occurred in the Tenderloin area, even though that population makes up only seven percent of San Francisco.

The City of San Francisco has responded by ramping up funding to more than 13 million dollars that will go towards several initiatives to prevent overdose such as temporary beds and street outreach to support people struggling with addiction.

Ellen (she/her) has a background in oral history, communication studies, and music. For the past two years, she has worked as a homelessness case manager in South Minneapolis. As a social worker, she got to hear compelling stories from her clients every day and is driven to amplify personal narrative as a source of empowerment and change. In her free time she bikes, plays double bass, and does queer stuff.