By Matt Willis and Vikki Garrod
Every five to six days we lose a Marin resident to an accidental overdose. This is more than twice the rate of five years ago. The primary driver? Fentanyl.
The public health crisis of overdose in Marin demands urgent action and community-wide strategies. We learned from our COVID-19 response that to take effective action we first need a shared understanding of the crisis.
Fentanyl is an opioid about 100 times more potent than morphine, making small quantities potentially lethal. It’s inexpensive to manufacture and has infiltrated the illicit drug supply of counterfeit prescription pills, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other substances. Because fentanyl lies undetected in many substances, regular drug users and those experimenting for the first time are at risk of accidental overdose.
This means that no community in Marin is immune. Analysis of local 911 calls show ambulances are responding to overdose events in every city and town in Marin, for people across the age spectrum and from all walks of life.
Because fentanyl is an urgent and shared concern for all of us, we must come together around proven solutions. OD Free Marin, Marin’s overdose prevention coalition, coordinates the actions of public health, healthcare professionals, schools, law enforcement, impacted families and community organizations.
Recognizing that the scale of this crisis calls for a unified response, OD Free Marin, the Marin Community Foundation, the Marin Independent Journal and the County of Marin are joining forces on a fentanyl awareness campaign. The campaign, which launches Sunday, focuses on three priorities — raising awareness, increasing access to Narcan (the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose) and removing barriers to substance use treatment.