Digital Originals

published : 2023-09-25

San Francisco's Zombie Apocalypse: Overdose Deaths Soar to Record Levels

The city is on track to crush overdose death records as addicts die in the streets

A street scene in San Francisco, showcasing the city's vibrant atmosphere and the challenges faced by its residents. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

San Francisco is facing a devastating overdose crisis that threatens to shatter previous records. According to recent data released by the San Francisco chief medical examiner, there were already 563 overdose fatalities between January 1 and August 31 this year.

If this trajectory continues, the city is set to reach a staggering 845 overdose fatalities by the end of 2023, surpassing the previous record of 725 deaths in 2020.

The primary culprit behind these tragic deaths is fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that has claimed the lives of around 2,000 San Francisco residents since 2020.

Former fentanyl user and current recovery advocate, Tom Wolf, revealed that the prevalence of fentanyl on the streets has increased threefold compared to last year. Its deadly presence has even contaminated other drugs like meth and crack cocaine, leading to a surge in overdoses across the city.

The dire situation on the ground is evident as the streets of San Francisco are lined with thousands of people in tents, many of whom are using meth and fentanyl to cope with their daily struggles.

Tom Wolf, a former drug user and recovery advocate, sharing his personal story and insights into the overdose crisis in San Francisco. (Taken with a Canon EOS R5)

Out of the 563 overdose deaths recorded this year, a staggering 456 were linked to fentanyl. The months of August and January proved to be the deadliest, with each month witnessing 84 overdose deaths, averaging nearly three deaths per day.

This crisis represents a dramatic escalation from 2017 when only 36 of the 222 overdose deaths involved fentanyl.

One despairing resident, Georgia Taylor, compared the current state of San Francisco to a 'zombie apocalypse.' She shared her personal battle with fentanyl addiction and expressed her desperate desire to get clean before it's too late.

The devastating impact of fentanyl is clear when comparing the statistics from 2017 to 2023. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths have multiplied tenfold in just six years.

Amidst this chaos, a local dealer showed callous disregard for the lives lost, stating that he doesn't care about the overdoses and that drug users are responsible for their own choices.

An overhead shot of drug paraphernalia, including needles and vials, representing the devastating impact of addiction and fentanyl on San Francisco's streets. (Taken with a Sony A7 III)

Despite the grim situation, there are still individuals like Will Krtek, a fentanyl user himself, who are stepping in to save lives. Krtek recently saved a user from overdosing by administering Narcan and performing chest compressions. This marked the fourth life he had saved in just over a week.

Efforts to combat the overdose epidemic include increased police intervention, as suggested by Tom Wolf. He argues that the introduction of fentanyl has fundamentally shifted public health approaches and necessitates a combination of enforcement, intervention, and mandated treatment to save lives.

As San Francisco continues to grapple with this unprecedented crisis, the city must make difficult decisions to address the overdose epidemic head-on. Mayor London Breed's office and the San Francisco Department of Public Health have yet to respond to requests for comment, leaving the city's residents and officials eager for effective solutions.