WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTXL) — California’s attorney general and law enforcement leaders addressed the climbing rates of opioid overdoses across the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of these plagues are exacerbating,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
He said Friday that within the last two years, there’s been a 25% increase in drug overdose deaths in California. Becerra pointed to San Diego, noting a 50% increase in overdose deaths in July and August, compared to the months leading up to the pandemic.
“In some of our counties, there are more deaths from overdoses than there are from COVID-19,” he said. “For law enforcement, for healthcare providers, for all of us who care about our communities, this is a major challenge.”
Nationally, suspected overdose deaths continue to spike since the pandemic started, with an 18% increase in March, 29% in April and 42% in May, compared to 2019.
This weekend, law enforcement agencies across the state are hoping more Californians participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back program, noting the majority of abused prescription drugs come from the medicine cabinets of family and friends.
“There’s no questions asked: you just drop your prescription medication in the bin, and you can get these out of our medicine cabinets and out of our homes, so someone struggling with this doesn’t have free access to those medications,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
The California Department of Justice has settled with some opioids manufacturers for their participation in the opioid crisis.
Currently, there is a departmental investigation ongoing into the marketing, sale and distribution practices of some of these companies.