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Shedding Light on the Fentanyl Epidemic

by Vira Patil 24, May 2024

An urgent dilemma overshadows San Francisco’s splendor—the alarming surge in fentanyl usage, a drug so potent that just two milligrams is considered a lethal dose and is responsible for approximately 73% of accidental deaths from overdosing, per Texas Health and Human Services. This February, San Francisco Chronicle reported that a staggering 49 accidental deaths caused by drug overdoses involved fentanyl.

Art By Liliana Chai

First introduced in 1959, fentanyl was initially marketed as an intravenous anesthetic and synthetic opioid, yet was later discovered to be approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. According to ABC7 News, 80% of drug overdose deaths in San Francisco were accredited to fentanyl in 2023—making it the single most deadly drug in the city. As a result, police activity rapidly increased, with California law enforcement seizing a staggering 62,224 pounds of fentanyl through financially oriented investigations, increased international cooperation and a renewed emphasis on reducing drug demand.

“Ending the fentanyl crisis is crucial to prevent the dangerous impacts of addiction on individuals, families and the community of San Francisco. For example, a decrease in overdoses could prevent overcrowding hospitals in the area, allowing for more availability for healthcare workers to address other important issues,” Junior Lyla Windsor said. 

 However, fentanyl is not the only drug present in San Francisco; the illegal distribution of substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide—a popular hallucinogenic drug—methamphetamine—a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen—and gamma-hydroxybutyrate—a nervous system depressant that produces feelings of euphoria and sociability—are also involved in the drug crisis. Collective drug use can hinder future productivity and place burdens such as depression and other psychosocial dysfunctions on the community.

“Analyses have shown that fentanyl has been laced into other drugs, making these mixtures very potent and dangerous. Also, it can be cheaply ordered online, which makes it easily accessible to young people, including teenagers. This is a grave concern since many young people are still grappling with social issues post-pandemic,” Rohini Neelavar, Math Department said.

The fentanyl epidemic is most severe in San Francisco’s crowded, unhygienic and homeless-packed Tenderloin neighborhood. Such conditions are a result of prevalent connections between drugs and homeless populations. According to the American Addiction Center, nearly 33% of the homeless have currently or previously grappled with either alcohol or drug addictions.

Art By Liliana Chai

Ultimately, the addictive properties of drugs can alter brain activity and make it extremely difficult to quit, which may lead users to take drastic measures to access them illegally. Despite actions taken by the San Francisco Police Department to stop any further spread of fentanyl, the issue is still on the rise.


About the Contributors

Vira Patil

Staff Writer

Vira Patil is a junior at Leland high school, and this is her first year as a staff writer on The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to binge TV shows, spend time with her family, and play the piano.

Liliana Chai


Liliana Chai is a freshman attending Leland High School and is an artist for the 2023-24 Charger Account. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing piano, sleeping, arts and crafts, and writing poetry. She is looking forward to Journalism and hopes to explore new ideas while collaborating with other people.

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