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Santa Clara County forms working group to reduce fentanyl deaths, trafficking

Group plans to host public information, outreach campaign to educate public on drug's dangers

Santa Clara County officials announced Friday the establishment of a working group that will focus on reducing local deaths due to the highly potent opioid fentanyl.

Fentanyl-laced pills tend to be blue, circular tablets with an embossed "M" on one side and "30" on the other. Courtesy Santa Clara County.

The working group plans to begin meeting April 15 and launch public information and outreach campaigns to ensure county residents understand the danger the drug can pose.

Fentanyl overdose deaths in the county rose from 29 in 2019 to 90 in 2020 and 135 in 2021, according to data from the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office. The county has also already recorded eight fentanyl overdose deaths this year.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, a member of the working group, noted Friday during a briefing to discuss the group that many of the county's fentanyl deaths are among teenagers and young adults, as well as a 12-year-old girl who died in late 2020 after taking a fentanyl-laced pill.

"No one is immune from this deadly drug, regardless of your background, regardless of where you live," Chavez said. "It's infiltrating our schools, colleges, homeless encampments, our parks and our community at large."

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As part of the working group, county officials plan to determine the best ways to reach young county residents on the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs and the utility of fentanyl test strips and the opioid overdose medication naloxone.

"We recognize that young people get information very differently than their parents," Chavez said.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is typically prescribed to treat severe pain is and roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many fentanyl deaths in the U.S., however, have been tied to illegally made and trafficked versions of the drug. Other drugs may also be laced with fentanyl, which can be lethal even if ingested in small amounts.

Edward Liang, the supervising deputy district attorney for the county District Attorney's Office's Major Crimes and Drug Trafficking Team, said local narcotics investigators and law enforcement officers have seized thousands of fentanyl pills across the county.

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"Eventually we hope to have a coordinated counter-response investigating the fentanyl poisoning deaths (in Santa Clara County)," said Liang, who is also a member of the working group.

The working group will also include District Attorney Jeff Rosen, county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan, county Coroner Dr. Michelle Jordan, parents of teenagers and young adults who have died from a fentanyl overdose and officials from the county Behavioral Health Services Department, county Executive's Office and the San Jose Police Department.

According to Chavez, the group will advise the county Board of Supervisors on the best ways to combat fentanyl use and trafficking and enable the relevant county departments to work collaboratively in the coming months.

Bruce Coakley, the director of access and unplanned services for the county's Substance Use Treatment Services Division, said the county also does not plan to target fentanyl users in its efforts to combat the drug, arguing that addiction should be treated as a public health issue.

"The use of drugs is a chronic relapsing health condition just as diabetes and heart disease is," Coakley said. "And if we don't understand the health side of this, we're never going to resolve this issue."

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Santa Clara County forms working group to reduce fentanyl deaths, trafficking

Group plans to host public information, outreach campaign to educate public on drug's dangers

by Eli Walsh / Bay City News Foundation /

Uploaded: Sat, Apr 2, 2022, 1:14 pm

Santa Clara County officials announced Friday the establishment of a working group that will focus on reducing local deaths due to the highly potent opioid fentanyl.

The working group plans to begin meeting April 15 and launch public information and outreach campaigns to ensure county residents understand the danger the drug can pose.

Fentanyl overdose deaths in the county rose from 29 in 2019 to 90 in 2020 and 135 in 2021, according to data from the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office. The county has also already recorded eight fentanyl overdose deaths this year.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, a member of the working group, noted Friday during a briefing to discuss the group that many of the county's fentanyl deaths are among teenagers and young adults, as well as a 12-year-old girl who died in late 2020 after taking a fentanyl-laced pill.

"No one is immune from this deadly drug, regardless of your background, regardless of where you live," Chavez said. "It's infiltrating our schools, colleges, homeless encampments, our parks and our community at large."

As part of the working group, county officials plan to determine the best ways to reach young county residents on the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs and the utility of fentanyl test strips and the opioid overdose medication naloxone.

"We recognize that young people get information very differently than their parents," Chavez said.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is typically prescribed to treat severe pain is and roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many fentanyl deaths in the U.S., however, have been tied to illegally made and trafficked versions of the drug. Other drugs may also be laced with fentanyl, which can be lethal even if ingested in small amounts.

Edward Liang, the supervising deputy district attorney for the county District Attorney's Office's Major Crimes and Drug Trafficking Team, said local narcotics investigators and law enforcement officers have seized thousands of fentanyl pills across the county.

"Eventually we hope to have a coordinated counter-response investigating the fentanyl poisoning deaths (in Santa Clara County)," said Liang, who is also a member of the working group.

The working group will also include District Attorney Jeff Rosen, county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan, county Coroner Dr. Michelle Jordan, parents of teenagers and young adults who have died from a fentanyl overdose and officials from the county Behavioral Health Services Department, county Executive's Office and the San Jose Police Department.

According to Chavez, the group will advise the county Board of Supervisors on the best ways to combat fentanyl use and trafficking and enable the relevant county departments to work collaboratively in the coming months.

Bruce Coakley, the director of access and unplanned services for the county's Substance Use Treatment Services Division, said the county also does not plan to target fentanyl users in its efforts to combat the drug, arguing that addiction should be treated as a public health issue.

"The use of drugs is a chronic relapsing health condition just as diabetes and heart disease is," Coakley said. "And if we don't understand the health side of this, we're never going to resolve this issue."

Comments

dena
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 5, 2022 at 1:44 pm
dena, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 5, 2022 at 1:44 pm

I hope this group isn't afraid to focus on the root of the problem - an open border, which makes it so easy for drug dealers to bring this horrible drug into our country.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2022 at 8:32 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 7, 2022 at 8:32 pm

Here's an idea: lobby Congress to STOP all the drug advertising on television. Young people watching American t.v can conclude only this: drugs are acceptable, there's a drug for every problem, and adults use them all the time. We can hardly set that example - constantly - and expect our youth to not follow it.

One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you . . .


Bill Bucy
Registered user
Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2022 at 11:39 am
Bill Bucy, Barron Park
Registered user
on Apr 8, 2022 at 11:39 am

Fentanyl test strips are inexpensive and easy to use. Given young people will experiment with drugs and given the ubiquity of fentanyl in all types of so-called recreational drugs, the strips should be made available for free just as condoms often are.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 9, 2022 at 12:01 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 9, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Yes - the border is where this problem is originating in the US. Close the border. Stop the human trafficking, drugs, etc.


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