Deaths from drug overdoses within San Benito County have steadily risen since 2014, with deaths from fentanyl becoming a factor starting in 2017, according to a report by the San Benito County Opioid Task Force.
Below is a list by year of the number of deaths by opioids.
- 2014: 4
- 2015: 4
- 2016: 5
- 2017: 6 (one by fentanyl and five by other opioids)
- 2018: 5 (one by fentanyl and four by other opioids)
- 2019: 7 (three by fentanyl and four by other opioids)
- 2020: 9 (two by fentanyl and seven by other opioids)
- 2021: 15 (five by fentanyl and 10 by other opioids)
The task force blames the rise in fentanyl cases on the drug being made illegally in street labs across the country as well as within the county. The pills may be manufactured to look like other drugs, including OxyContin, Percocet and Xanax, increasing the chance of accidental overdose.
In 2021, there were 48 drug overdoses reported by the County Office of Emergency Services. Naloxone, a medication that counteracts opioid overdoses by restoring breathing, was administered in 36 cases, slightly fewer than in 2020.
Here is a list by year of the number of Naloxone doses administered by Office of Emergency Services:
- 2017: 14
- 2018: 20
- 2019: 23
- 2020: 38
- 2021: 36
While overdoses in San Benito County are increasing there has been a substantial decrease in opioid prescriptions after reaching a peak of 41,655 in 2015. In 2021, only 19,524 opioid prescriptions were issued, a 53% reduction.
Below is a list by year of the number of opioid prescriptions written in San Benito County.
- 2008: 28,695
- 2009: 33,038
- 2010: 35,461
- 2011: 33,964
- 2012: 36,489
- 2013: 37,822
- 2014: 39,466
- 2015: 41,655
- 2016: 37,747
- 2017: 31,973
- 2018: 27,058
- 2019: 22,622
- 2020: 19,799
- 2021: 19,524
Though figures were not given for specific numbers of deaths, three charts released by the task force showed significant differences in race, age and location demographics.
- There were slightly more Latino/Hispanic deaths than white deaths.
- San Juan Bautista and Aromas had more deaths than Hollister.
- Most opioid deaths occurred to people aged 15 to 34. The highest number of deaths were to people aged 30 to 34.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a person experiencing an opioid overdose may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Their face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
- Their body goes limp
- Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
- They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
- They cannot be awakened or are unable to speak
- Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops
It adds to call 911 immediately, begin CPR if the person has stopped breathing or if breath is very weak and to administer that person with naloxone to reverse opioid overdose.
The San Benito County Opioid Task Force provides a resource page here.
We need your help. Support local, nonprofit news! BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is committed to this community and providing essential, accurate information to our fellow residents. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s public service, nonprofit news.