A sharp increase in drug overdose deaths in San Diego County brought together local, state, and federal officials on Friday to discuss ways to combat the growing fentanyl epidemic.
Authorities announced on Friday that there has been a 16.7 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in 2021 over the previous year caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin.
In late February, the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) announced it had recovered 6 lbs of methamphetamine, one kilo of fentanyl, and $50,000.
“Please be aware that we've responded to nine overdoses within the last three weeks, two of which were fatal. Please get the word out, fentanyl is deadly, and it's in our community,” the CVPD wrote in a tweet.
The department said it has also seen an increase in the number of firearms on the street, including ghost guns.
During a two-hour closed roundtable session, county officials received updates from Drug Enforcement Administration narcotics officials, Homeland Security Investigators, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and medical professionals on the impacts of fentanyl.
The meeting was not open to the media to protect the privacy of some participants,
according to the county.
Last year, there was a total of 1,138 people died of a drug overdose in San Diego County, according to the presented data. Authorities say that figure is still a preliminary pending confirmation that is subject to change as investigations are closed.
People often buy drugs online or on social media under the impression they are legitimate, according to authorities who warn that those transactions may be counterfeit with the potential of containing dangerous and potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.
In January, the county recently started giving out naloxone, the drug that reverses an overdose, for free to anyone who needs it.
San Diego county funds residential and outpatient treatment programs across the region to help people recover from substance use disorders.
Participation in treatment and recovery services improves wellbeing, can reunite families and loved ones, and also improves overall health.
Substance use treatment resources are available by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240 or 2-1-1.