San Francisco Sees Record Drug Overdose Deaths In August: ‘Like A Zombie Apocalypse’

Fentanyl was involved in many of the deaths.
Syringes found at the base of the Pioneer monument on Fulton St. between the SF Main library and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. During the month of last September almost 4829 used syringes were found in the Civic Center, including 519 at the SF Main Library and 730 at the Asian Art Museum. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco’s drug crisis hit a grim milestone last month, beating the city’s previous record for the most fatal drug overdoses in one month.

The city saw 84 accidental drug overdose deaths in August, or about five deaths every two days, according to preliminary city data.

August surpassed January’s 83 drug deaths for the deadliest month since San Francisco started tracking monthly overdose deaths in early 2020.

Fentanyl was involved in 66 of last month’s drug deaths.

So far this year, a total of 563 people have died from a drug overdose in San Francisco, although the causes of over 100 of those deaths are still under examination.

San Francisco is now on track to see 845 overdose deaths this year, which would beat the record 725 deaths the city saw in 2020, according to city data. Last year, fatal overdoses dropped to 647 deaths, but they have spiked again this year. Back in 2017, a much lower number, 222 people, died from overdoses in the city.

The city has poured millions of dollars into addressing addiction and overdoses, including a “safe consumption” site in the Tenderloin neighborhood that ran for about 11 months last year. However, the site was closed amid concerns over how much it was costing taxpayers, complaints from nearby residents about the neighborhood deteriorating, and its failure to connect many addicts with drug treatment programs.

So far, however, none of the city’s interventions have stemmed the crisis.


Even drug users themselves lament the situation.

“It’s crazy, so sad out here, it’s like a zombie apocalypse,” Georgia Taylor, 32, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Taylor said she started using fentanyl “because I lost my two kids to child protective services and had a broken heart.”

“You can’t help people who don’t want help,” Taylor told the outlet. “You can find 100 people out here who have 100 different reasons for using, and we all have to be ready to quit before it will work. I’ve been clean before, and I so, so want to get clean again before I overdose and die. But it’s so hard.”

Besides the ongoing scourge of fentanyl flooding San Francisco’s streets, a new drug is flooding the illegal drug market and causing headaches for the city.

Xylazine, or “tranq” as it is known on the streets, is a cheap, flesh-rotting horse tranquilizer mass-manufactured in China that has recently proliferated on the streets of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York. The “zombie drug” causes skin lesions that look like flesh is being eaten off, sometimes down to the bone, and can slow a person’s heart and breathing until they stop, leaving users catatonic or dead.

Narcan, the emergency opioid reverse medicine, does not work on “tranq” since xylazine is not an opioid.

San Francisco’s drug crisis has also come with rampant homelessness and crime for years.

Homelessness has only gotten worse since before the pandemic. About 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on a given night, up 35% since 2019.

Overall crime in San Francisco is slightly down this year, but certain types of violent crime are up, according to police data.

Murder is up 11% to 40 murders so far. Robberies are up 17% to 1,989 robberies so far. Car thefts are up 11% to 4,898 thefts.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  San Francisco Sees Record Drug Overdose Deaths In August: ‘Like A Zombie Apocalypse’