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California Here It Comes:  Fentanyl

California Here It Comes:  Fentanyl

Through the years, Americans have looked to Califonia as a trendsetter.  We expect that whatever happens there will eventually spread to the rest of the country.  Some of the trends are good, some are not.  

Many of our fashion, food, fitness, and lifestyle trends originated in California.  However, despite California’s influence on many American trends, the state isn’t responsible for the fentanyl epidemic sweeping the nation today. 

Beware California, fentanyl is your next big problem.

According to the San Franciso public health department, when fentanyl is sold on the streets, it is clearly labeled.  As a result of the labeling, people who buy the drug know what they’re getting.  This helps them take necessary precautions when using fentanyl.  

To date, the city has a low death rate from fentanyl due to the well-funded harm-reduction practices.  One such practice involves making Narcan widely available to help reduce overdoses.

But, those things are about to change dramatically.  Fentanyl is gradually making its way into every city in the state.

What’s causing California’s spike in fentanyl overdose deaths?

Addiction expert Kelly Pfeifer, from the Califonia Health Care Foundation (CHCF), had this to say about fentanyl use in the state in 2019:

“Here in California, we felt lucky we weren’t seeing the same kind of devastation from the opioid epidemic that was occurring on the other side of the country.” 

But, since then, the number of fentanyl overdoses has steadily risen in California.  Fentanyl-laced cocaine found its way into Los Angeles, causing many overdose deaths.  Furthermore, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, more people died from drug overdoses than from the virus itself.  

Statistics reveal an alarming trend in California.

According to the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 708 accidental drug overdose deaths occurred from January – December 2020, compared to 254 COVID-19 deaths.  Statistics reveal that fentanyl ranked highest as a cause of fatal overdoses above heroin, opioids, meth, or cocaine.  

Part of the overdose increase is due to a disruption in social services during the virus pandemic.  Many addiction treatment programs closed during the pandemic.  But, addiction treatment is only one of the services that were negatively affected by the lockdowns.  Programs that provided support, Naloxone, or clean syringes also cut back on their services.  

Prolonged isolation is another factor that contributed to increased overdose deaths nationwide.  People often used fentanyl or other drugs while in lockdown alone.  If an overdose occurred, no one was around to provide life-saving assistance, administer Naloxone, or call 911.

San Franciso Board of Supervisors member, Matt Haney, gave this statement to the Wall Street Journal:

“We see the death and devastation getting worse right in front of us.  It’s an unprecedented spiraling, directly connected to the introduction of fentanyl in our city.”

In Las Vegas, fentanyl-related deaths among the homeless rose 26% last year.  Also, in San Francisco, 135 people have died from an overdose in January and February of 2021.  

Clearly, the fentanyl epidemic has arrived in California to continue spreading devastation from coast to coast.

How is the state responding to increased overdose deaths?

California has launched a campaign of opioid safety projects to enhance addiction treatment and prevent deaths.  In the past, there has been a shortage of effective, affordable treatment in the state.  Also, far too many people view substance abuse as a lack of willpower.   CHCF’s goal is to reduce this stigma surrounding addiction and create a new perspective.  

Also, advocates from addiction treatment facilities, public health institutions, hospitals, law enforcement, and more are working together to find effective methods for solving the opioid epidemic.  They provide physicians with updated prescribing guidelines, increase access to Naloxone, and expand the availability of treatment programs.  

The California Overdose Prevention Network (COPN) is another example of how the state is working on viable solutions to the opioid problem.  Also, the Inland Empire Opioid Crisis Coalition (EOCC) works diligently to reduce underage opioid use and improve the quality of life in the community.

Doing our part to reduce fentanyl overdoses.

The best way to prevent overdose deaths is to stop addictions.  At Cycles of Change Recovery, we want to be a part of the solution to the fentanyl crisis.  To accomplish this goal, we offer a comprehensive treatment program that helps individuals overcome fentanyl addiction.  

We believe anyone can overcome addiction with treatment that focuses on healing the person psychologically, emotionally, and socially.  Addiction encompasses more than the physical act of using drugs or alcohol.  Many other factors are involved that contribute to a person’s substance use.  With that in mind, we created a program to include various modalities customized to each client’s specific needs.    

Our program includes detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare services.  Through each stage of treatment, our clients are treated as unique individuals who deserve respect and compassion.

If you need help with fentanyl abuse or addiction, contact us at our Palmdale, California facility.  We offer a comforting environment where you can feel secure as you heal at your own pace.  Your success in overcoming addiction is important to us, so call now to learn how we can help you achieve lasting recovery.


  • sf.gov – Report on Accidental Overdose Deaths
  • wsj.com – Fentanyl has Spread West and Overdoses are Surging
  • chcf.org – How CHCF Helped California Respond to the Opioid Epidemic

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