A combination of increased demand across America and a porous southern border frequently exploited by drug smugglers has resulted in a devastating opioid crisis in recent years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 107,375 deaths were caused by drug overdoses between January 2021 and January 2022 — and roughly two-thirds were caused by powerful drugs like fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is the single deadliest threat our nation has ever encountered,” advised U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration head Anne Milgram. “Fentanyl is everywhere. From large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe from this poison.”
Of course, certain cities have been especially hard hit by the epidemic — including San Francisco, California.
Local activist Tom Wolf recently offered his take on the root causes of the city’s current situation and what needs to happen to reverse course.
“Unfortunately for San Francisco, we’ve become the epicenter of the overdose crisis in the United States,” he said, noting that the county currently has the nation’s highest per-capita overdose rate.
Of the 647 reported overdose deaths in San Francisco last year, 458 were attributed to fentanyl. This year’s statistics are on pace to eclipse that total with 131 deaths caused by unintentional overdoses during just the first two months.
Wolf, a former addict who founded the group Pacific Coalition for Prevention and Recovery, said it is incumbent for those in power to “intervene,” explaining that such action would involve taking down the “carte-fueled, organized drug dealers that are operating on our streets.”
He advised that “we have about 500 of them right now operating in San Francisco in broad daylight, right on the street for everyone to see, and we just don’t have enough resources to stop them.”
NEW: U.S. overdose crisis is worse than ever. In San Francisco, fentanyl killed more than 2X COVID in 2020. We rode with their innovative EMS unit exclusively responding to ODs. They say so long as inequality exists, people will use the cheap, deadly drug. pic.twitter.com/sPLAh2VBRO
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) September 26, 2021
A major factor in the city’s inability to properly address the crisis, Wolf said, is the decision to strip funding from law enforcement.
“We’re down 500 police officers in our city,” he explained, citing a decision to take “$28 million of funding away from the police two years ago” as a primary factor.
“Nobody wants to come to the city to become a cop,” Wolf concluded. “People are retiring and leaving the force. So, yeah, we’re really under the gun.”
He also lamented that local leaders are discussing the problem as “just a public health crisis” instead of a “criminal justice issue,” noting that only a strategy that addresses both aspects will put a dent in the deadly trend.