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Laced drugs hospitalize 5 after overdoses, SF officials confirm

A hand holds a packaged Narcan nasal spray, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses.
Narcan as displayed in The Standard’s photo studio on Dec. 9, 2022 | Mike Kuba/The Standard

Six adults overdosed on Christmas Day after using laced drugs they believed to be cocaine, a hospital official not authorized to speak publicly told The Standard.

Five people were hospitalized, including two in critical condition, and emergency officials administered Narcan to all six individuals, the SF Fire Department confirmed. 

The fire department could not confirm whether the overdoses were caused by fentanyl

However, a source at a Downtown SF hospital said Sutter Health (CPMC) hospitals treated a mass-casualty overdose situation on Christmas Day, in which affected individuals ingested drugs they thought were cocaine. 

San Francisco has endured an overdose crisis that has so far claimed the lives of over 2,800 individuals in the last five years. Though the yearly number of overdoses has actually decreased in recent years, San Franciscans still believe that drugs laced with opioids, especially fentanyl, are behind the problem throughout the Bay Area.

In recent months, San Francisco has seen a slew of accidental overdoses hit individuals across the city, as fentanyl surges across the Bay Area. A baby allegedly overdosed after ingesting fentanyl in a park, and one social media user reported on Christmas Eve they had heard of a “bad batch of cocaine” circulating throughout San Francisco. This year, the number of fentanyl-related overdoses outnumbers overdoses from any other opioid. 

The city’s public health department announced a citywide advisory in March about fentanyl-laced cocaine but has yet to do the same now. 

The SF Department of Public Health referred The Standard to the fire department and the SF Police Department did not respond to requests for comment. Sutter Hospitals declined to comment. 

Alison Heller, co-founder of FentCheck, shows off her stash of Narcan, which she hands out to bars along with the company’s test strips. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Resources for drug and fentanyl safety: 

  • Explore overdose prevention resources from the city, including harm reduction supplies, mental health and substance use resources, and training videos.