Ten people have died of fentanyl overdose in San Luis Obispo since May.
This is an "alarming increase" in synthetic opioid deaths that can occur in various drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Public health officials warn that even a small amount of the drug can cause a person to stop breathing. This is clear from a press release released Tuesday morning. Two or fewer deaths per year have been attributable to overdose of fentanyl since 2015.
Toxicological reports on the recent San Luis Obispo deaths show that the drug was mixed with opioids and stimulants such as methamphetamine, resulting in a fatal preparation. Fentanyl is 100 times more effective than morphine and 30 to 50 times more effective than heroin, the press release said.
"We all want to know: Illegal fentanyl is in the San Luis Obispo district and carries a high risk of overdose," Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer, in press release. "Any drug you buy on the street may be contaminated with deadly fentanyl levels."
It's sold as a powder or pill that looks like prescription opioids.
Fentanyl is used by physicians to relieve pain in cancer patients or patients recovering from surgery. It is also produced illegally.
The safest way to protect yourself is not to use illegal drugs, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk, Borenstein said.
How To Avoid Overdosing With Fentanyl
Get Naloxone. The drug can reverse an opioid overdose, does not add up and has virtually no side effects.
Test for fentanyl. Test strips are not exactly accurate, but provide some information. They are available through the SLO nonprofit syringe-replacement and overdose prevention program.
Know what an overdose looks like and call 91
In connection with the treatment. The San Luis Obispo County Drug and Alcohol Service Team provides recovery services and can also help connect residents to other treatment programs. For more information, call 800-838-1381 or visit Drug & Alcohol Services online.
Where in SLO County do you get naloxone without a prescription?
SLO Bangers offers both the nasal spray and the injection form of Naloxone without a prescription, free of charge and in a confidential environment. Call 805-458-0123 to learn more, or drop by on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. at 2191 Johnson Ave. in San Luis Obispo. Parking is available at Bishop Street.