The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

2023 becomes San Francisco’s deadliest year for drugs

Photo illustration by Sara Lahr
The contents of a medicine bottle spilling out.

San Francisco has become famous in the past couple of years for its drug problem, which now has become a threat to everyone surrounding the Bay Area. However, this year marks the worst year so far.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 2023 was the deadliest year for drugs in San Francisco, with a total of 811 deaths involving drugs. That figure tops 2020, the previous record year for drug-related deaths, by nearly 100.

To take action against this drug epidemic, San Francisco’s Department of Health is now testing wastewater for drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. 

A group of protestors in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood in San Francisco, has been fighting to create drug-safe spaces where people can use drugs without repercussions and have someone nearby in case of overdose. These safe spaces also provide clean needles and resources to help people fight their addictions. The protesters claim that having a safe space for drug users prevents overall deaths from these drugs. Because of their claims of efficacy, they are pushing for San Francisco lawmakers to create government-funded safe spaces. 

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However, due to a federal law passed in 2022, the government isn’t allowed to create those spaces. To support the non profit regardless, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has shown support for the safe injection sites by making way for privately-funded safe injection sites.

San Francisco this year has already faced over 100 drug-related deaths, and around 80 percent of the deaths are related to fentanyl. The San Francisco Chronicle has also estimated that, if we continue at this current pace, we can expect 655 more deaths by the end of this year.

Even in light of these statistics, the San Francisco government has not yet officially acknowledged the protests for the safe injection sites and have not yet come up with a plan on how to solve the drug epidemic. 

Drugs have become a huge problem for San Francisco due to fentanyl becoming easier to access. Not only has it been easier to access, the 2020 pandemic destabilized our norm of living, which drew people more to using drugs as an escape from reality. Although fentanyl deaths began in 2019, it grew exponentially in 2020. However, just because it seemed to have reached its peak in 2020, it has grown and will continue to grow for as long as we don’t address this problem further. 

This issue is ongoing and is a huge issue. However, hopefully, by having safe spaces, we can at least reduce drug-related deaths in San Francisco.

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Sara Lahr
Sara Lahr, Staff Writer

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