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Our Team in the News:

ANTIOCH: Major Antioch Cocaine Dealer, 70, Sentenced to 30 Months in Federal Prison.

July 18, 2024: An Antioch drug dealer who moved cocaine by the kilogram has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in federal prison. Lorenzo Lee, 70, is set to report to the Bureau of Prisons on Sept. 3 to begin serving his sentence. He pleaded guilty to a drug distribution charge and was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, records show. Read More Here

SONOMA COUNTY: Opioid Prevention Education Coming to Sonoma County Schools This Fall.

July 18, 2024: The Sonoma County Office of Education and the county Department of Health Services this fall will begin educating teachers, staff and students about the dangers of opioids and how to assist in overdose prevention following a state mandate passed last year. Read More Here

Sonoma County Office of Education, located at 5340 Skylane Boulevard in downtown Santa Rosa, California

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY: Here’s Why Fentanyl Users on San Francisco’s Streets are Bent Over.

July 17, 2024: It’s become a ubiquitous sign of the fentanyl crisis unfolding on San Francisco’s streets: scores of seemingly comatose drug users slumped-over in extreme positions. Examples of the so-called “fentanyl fold” have also been plastered on social media for years as San Francisco continues to try to get a grip on a highly visible opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 800 people last year. Read More Here

A man is seen partially folded over, a position taken by many users while under the influence of opioids such as fentanyl, in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY: Street Drug Dealers Are Selling Elephant Tranquilizers in Santa Cruz. 

July 17, 2024: Federal prosecutors teamed up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to remove suspected fentanyl traffickers from the beachside community. Investigators said Jesus Nunez Martinez was selling fentanyl and carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other very large mammals, the Drug Enforcement Administration said. Read More Here

Santa Cruz Bridge

MARTINEZ: Novel Contra Costa Program Connects Domestic Violence Survivors with Healthcare. 

July 16, 2024: A unique collaborative telehealth service in Contra Costa County, called TeleCARE, safely connects survivors of interpersonal violence with the healthcare services they desperately need including medical care, mental health counseling, prescriptions, and even dental care –all at no-cost to the patient. Read More Here

SAN PABLO: Innovative Permanent Supportive Housing Complex to Open in San Pablo.

July 13, 2024: El Portal Place, 2555 El Portal Drive, will serve some of the county’s most vulnerable residents with permanent supportive housing that includes onsite services such as case management, community supports, and referrals to services such as behavioral health, benefits assistance, and healthcare. Read More Here

El Portal Place. Photo: Overaa Construction

DANVILLE: Danville Police Make Arrest in Illegal Drugs Investigation. 

July 12, 2024: The Danville Police Department announced the arrest of Mark Allen, 32 of Danville in connection with an illegal drug operation. On July 11 at approximately 10:23 a.m., Danville Police Department executed a search warrant at a Danville residence, making an arrest based on several drug-related charges. Read More Here

Some of the drugs recovered from the Danville home on July 11. Photo: Danville PD

ANTIOCH: Antioch Man Avoids Jail in Prescription Drugs for Cocaine Case Involving Dentist.

July 12, 2024: After pleading guilty to drug dealing, an Antioch man avoided jail time for his involvement in an illicit scheme to acquire opiate pills by trading cocaine to a popular dentist who wrote phony prescriptions, court records show. Read More Here

MARTINEZ: Meet the Library Wellness Team, Social Workers at the Library.

July 11, 2024: A new partnership with the Contra Costa County Library & Contra Costa County Behavioral Health places a clinical social worker & a community support worker at Concord Library on Mondays & Tuesdays, at the San Pablo Library on Wednesdays & Thursdays, & at the Antioch Library on Fridays. Read More Here.

SACRAMENTO: Lifesaving Drugs and Police Projects Mark First Use of Opioid Settlement Cash in California. 

July 11, 2024: California is in line for more than $4 billion in opioid settlement funds, and local governments are most often spending the first tranche of money on lifesaving drugs. An exclusive California Healthline analysis also found projects to help police deter youths’ drug use and counsel officers who witness overdoses. Read More Here

Among local governments that did use the cash in the first fiscal year, the most popular object of spending was naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses and is often known by the brand name Narcan.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO: Fentanyl Almost Killed Him. Now Sober, He Walked A ‘Miracle’ 500 Miles.

July 10, 2024: As Ben Campofreda set out on a more than 500-mile trek through historic Spanish villages, along rugged cliff sides and past unspoiled beaches, he felt a sense of freedom he hadn’t known for years. … Just two years ago, Campofreda, 42, was living on the streets of San Francisco in the throes of a fentanyl addiction, unable to walk. His body had withered to an alarming 100 pounds and a spinal infection confined him to a wheelchair. Read More Here

 
Ben Campofreda is pictured on April 5 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the final destination on his five-week pilgrimage across Northern Spain.

MARTINEZ: There’s A Cheap & Effective Way To Tackle The Opioid Crisis — Safer Smoking Kits.

July 6, 2024: Safe smoking kits are an effective and relatively inexpensive method to reduce drug overdoses and other negative health effects while reaching a community that for too long has been left behind by drug policy reforms. Read More Here

A fentanyl user smokes the drug in a Los Angeles alley near MacArthur Park. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

SAN PABLO: San Pablo Officers Commended for Saving Young Man’s Life.

July 2, 2024: Two San Pablo police officers received the prestigious Life Saving Medal for their heroic actions in saving the life of a man suffering from an opioid overdose emergency. The incident occurred the morning of May 15, when Officers Kristina Foster and Brooke Kobold responded to the emergency call and found a 21-year-old man unresponsive and without a pulse, according to the San Pablo Police Department. They immediately administered Narcan and CPR and were able to revive the subject as medical personnel arrived on scene. Read More Here

Photo courtesy of the San Pablo Police Department.

ANTIOCH: Sutter Delta Medical Center Named Among Becker’s Great Community Hospitals. 

June 29, 2024: Community hospitals play a vital role within the broader healthcare landscape by providing accessible primary care, emergency services, continuity of care, specialized care, healthcare access for underserved populations, economic benefits and support for disaster response and public health preparedness. They are integral to the health and well-being of the communities they serve, embodying the principle of healthcare as a fundamental, equitable human right. Recently, three Sutter Health hospitals were named “Great Community Hospitals” by Becker’s Hospital Review. Only eight other California hospitals made the list this year. Read More Here.

Sutter Delta Medical Center entrance, flag pole and turnaround in Antioch, CA

WASHINGTON, DC: Supreme Court Blocks Purdue Pharma Opioid Settlement, Threatening Billions of Dollars for Victims.

June 27, 2024: The Supreme Court on Thursday blew up the massive bankruptcy reorganization of opioid maker Purdue Pharma, finding that the settlement inappropriately included legal protections for the Sackler family, meaning that billions of dollars secured for victims is now threatened. The court on a 5-4 vote on nonideological lines ruled that the bankruptcy court did not have the authority to release the Sackler family members from legal claims made by opioid victims. Read More Here.

The Supreme Court rejected a provision at the heart of a settlement with Purdue Pharma that would have channeled billions of dollars to help curb the opioid epidemic in exchange for shielding the Sacklers.

MARTINEZ: Bay Area Schools Look to Tackle Fentanyl Crisis Head On.

June 24, 2024: Facing a fentanyl overdose crisis among teens, Bay Area high schools and nonprofits are finding ways to both save them from overdosing and prevent substance abuse by giving out medicine and changing their approach to drug education. Read More Here.

A health worker at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center explains how to use Narcan in the case of an overdose. (Maxwell Alexander/Mosaic)

MARTINEZ: New Contra Costa Youth Stabilization Unit Opening for Children and Teens Experiencing Psychiatric Emergencies.  

June 21, 2024: Children and adolescents having psychiatric emergencies will have their own standalone 24/7 behavioral health crisis stabilization space in Contra Costa County starting Monday, June 24. Read More Here.

WASHINGTON, DC: Supreme Court Upholds Meth Conviction of California Woman Who Claimed She Was a ‘Blind Mule’.

June 20, 2024: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the conviction of a California woman who said she did not know about a stash of methamphetamine hidden inside her car. The 6-3 opinion came in a case that revolved around how much expert witnesses can say about a defendant’s mindset. Read More Here.

The U.S Supreme Court is seen on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

MARTINEZ: High Out-of-Pocket Costs Keep Some From Lifesaving Opioid Antidote. 

June 18, 2024: Patients are less likely to fill prescriptions for the overdose-reversing drug naloxone when they have to shell out more at the pharmacy, a new study finds. Read More Here.

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY: Telehealth CEO Charged in Alleged $100 Million Scheme to Provide “Easy Access” to Adderall & Other Stimulants. 

June 18, 2024: Federal prosecutors have charged the CEO and head doctor of Done Global — a telehealth company that distributes stimulant drugs to thousands of patients across the United States — with fraud in an alleged $100 million scheme to provide “easy access” to Adderall and other stimulants. Read More Here.

George Frey/Bloomberg/Getty Images

ANTIOCH/WALNUT CREEK: Kaiser Permanente’s Antioch and Walnut Creek Medical Centers Named America’s Best Maternity Hospitals 2024.

June 10, 2024: Kaiser Permanente’s Antioch Medical Center and Walnut Creek Medical Center are just two of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals that is being recognized as among the best in the United States for providing exceptional care to parents and their newborns, according to Newsweek magazine’s list of America’s Best Maternity Hospitals 2024. Read More Here.

 

MARTINEZ: Contra Costa Health Launches Interactive Health Data Atlas.

June 10, 2024: A new online tool will give the public easy access to a wide array of Contra Costa County health data in one convenient place for the first time. The Contra Costa Health Atlas (atlas.cchealth.org) provides interactive data on more than 100 health indicators and socioeconomic factors that affect them. While the data in the Health Atlas is already publicly available, it is spread across multiple sources, which can make it challenging to get at.  Read More Here.

BERKELEY: UC Berkeley Freshman & Son of Former YouTube CEO Died In An Accidental Drug Overdose.

May 30, 2024: Marco Troper, a 19-year-old UC Berkeley freshman who was found unresponsive in his dorm in February, died from an accidental overdose caused by a lethal combination of drugs, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said. Read More Here

Marco Troper, a math major in his second semester at UC Berkeley, was discovered unresponsive in his room in the Clark Kerr Campus residential complex on Feb. 13.

SAN FRANCISCO: Fentanyl Laced With Animal Tranquilizer Leading to Overdoses Across San Francisco.

May 28, 2024: Just as San Francisco is seeing a slight dip in fatal drug overdoses, a new powerful animal sedative has made its way into America’s illicit drug supply and is causing waves of overdoses across the country. Medetomidine is the latest street drug to appear alongside fentanyl. A synthetic drug used for veterinary anesthesia, medetomidine reportedly causes “heightened sedation” and “profound bradycardia,” or slowed heart rate, according to researchers. Read More Here

G, holds a foil with fentanyl on it on Willow Street, an alley in San Francisco, on March 13. A new street drug is emerging in the United States just as overdoses fell slightly in San Francisco.

CONCORD: Contra Costa County Seeks Solutions for Ambulance Shortage.

May 20, 2024: Contra Costa County officials are looking for ways to improve emergency medical services. A shortage of ambulances, long hospital wait times, and difficulty hiring and retaining paramedics have led to multiple issues. Read More Here

CALIFORNIA: California Pays Meth Users to Get Sober.

May 20, 2024: California’s Medicaid program is testing a novel approach for people addicted to methamphetamine, cocaine, and other stimulants. For every clean urine test, they can earn money — up to $599 a year.  Read More Here.

Quinn Coburn is a longtime meth user. The Grass Valley man is now getting sober in a new state program that pays amphetamine users to stay clean. “It saved me,” Coburn says on a bright afternoon in April. (Angela Hart/KFF Health News)

CONCORD: Health Officials Host Opioid Listening Sessions in Concord.

May 10, 2024: Contra Costa Health Services hosted an opioid settlement listening session to residents of the community for ideas about how to best use it.  Read More Here.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California

CONCORD: ‘Parent’s worst nightmare’: Concord Person Hooked Girls on Fentanyl to Produce Child Porn.

May 8, 2024: A Concord man was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for coercing teenage girls to produce child pornography and supplying them with narcotics, including fentanyl, U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey said on Wednesday. Read More Here.

A Concord person accused of producing child pornography after plying 16- and 17-year-old girls with fentanyl was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison this week, in a case U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey called “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

ANTIOCH: City of Antioch Mental Health Crisis Team Touts Positive Results, No In-custody Deaths After 1 Year. 

May 6, 2024: The City of Antioch created its own private crisis response team, and after twelve months the city’s mayor says results have been positive. Read More Here.

MARTINEZ: California to Receive Settlement from the Same Company It’s Partnering With On Overdose Reversal Drug. 

May 3, 2024: California announced a tentative settlement agreement Friday with a pharmaceutical company over its alleged role in perpetuating the opioid addiction crisis battering the state — the same company Gov. Gavin Newsom is partnering with to produce lower-cost opioid overdose reversal drugs. That means the state could hand any funds it receives from the settlement right back to the company for the overdose reversal drugs it is partnering with the company, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, to produce. Read More Here.

California announced a settlement with a pharmaceutical company over its alleged role in perpetuating the opioid crisis — the same company Gov. Gavin Newsom is partnering with to produce overdose reversal drugs.

MARTINEZ: ‘Incessant Sexual Predator’ from Martinez Gets 20 Years for Abusing Girls, One of Whom Overdosed on Fentanyl Allegedly Provided by Defendant. 

May 6, 2024: A Martinez resident has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for possessing images of child sexual abuse and coercion of teen girls, one of whom overdosed from fentanyl she allegedly got from the defendant, court records show. Read More Here.

RICHMOND: Investigative Report Sheds New Light on Deaths of Bay Area Men in Police Custody.

April 26, 2024: An investigation by The Associated Press found that at least 16 people died in California in 2012-2021 following physical encounters with police during which medical personnel also injected them with a powerful sedative. Read More Here
In this image from Richmond Police Department body-camera video, police restrain Ivan Gutzalenko in Richmond, Calif., on March 10, 2021. (Richmond Police Department via AP)

ANTIOCH: East Bay High School Nurse Revives Student with Narcan on Campus After Suspected Overdose. 

April 18, 2024: A high school nurse in Antioch administered Narcan to a student Tuesday who was apparently overdosing on drugs at lunchtime, a spokesperson for the school district said Wednesday. The Deer Valley High School nurse administered 4 mg of Narcan to a student who was “under the influence” and unconscious just before 12:08 p.m., spokesperson Lindsay Wisely told the Chronicle. … Wisely said the student, whose age was not immediately known, had recovered and planned to return to school Wednesday. Read More Here
Aerial view of Deer Valley High School in Antioch, California

BAY AREA: Amid The Fentanyl Epidemic, California Bill Aims to Create More Drug-Free Homeless Housing.

April 18, 2024: In an effort to create more drug-free housing options, a new legislative bill from a Bay Area lawmaker aims to allow state agencies to set aside up to 25% of supportive housing funding for sober living facilities. Currently, state-funded permanent supportive housing sites can’t require residents to stay off drugs. Read more here.
Sheenia Branner, program manager for the Recovery Survival Network, runs the sober-living Norma Hotel helping people coming out of the criminal justice system, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in San Francisco, Calif. She lost her mother, Gwendolyn Bryant, when she overdosed and died in a supportive housing site where residents used drugs. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

WALNUT CREEK: Man Dies of Drug Overdose at Walnut Creek BART.

April 13, 2024: A man died of a suspected drug overdose Friday on a BART train in Walnut Creek, according to a Bay Area Rapid Transit statement. Read more here.
Man dies of drug overdose at Walnut Creek BART.

EAST CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: Cities Issue Proclamation for Prescription Drug Abuse Month. 

April 4, 2024: The Contra Costa County MEDS Coalition would like to express its gratitude towards the cities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, and Brentwood for their efforts in recognizing March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. Each of these cities issued proclamations and resolutions to raise awareness and educate the community about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Thank you for taking a stand against this critical issue and supporting our mission to prevent prescription drug abuse. 

SAN PABLO: City Council Presents Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Proclamation.

April 1, 2024: San Pablo Mayor Patricia Ponce read a two-page proclamation declaring March, 2024, as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the April 1 City Council meeting. You can watch the meeting here.
San Pablo City Hall in San Pablo, California

RICHMOND: Plagued By The Past: Does Richmond Deserve its Reputation as a Hard-Knock Town?

March 27, 2024: Richmond has an image problem. And its residents are well aware of it. They see it in outsiders’ faces, hear it in their derogatory comments and sense it when they tell others where they are from. Read More Here
School children in Richmond (Choekyi Lhamo)

BRENTWOOD: Alleged Drug Lab Producing DMT Discovered in Brentwood. 

March 25, 2024: Deputies in Brentwood allegedly discovered a lab set up to manufacture a powerful psychedelic drug and containers of an explosive compound, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday. Read More Here

CALIFORNIA: New California Law Mandates Bars and Nightclubs to Offer Drug Testing Devices for Drinks.

March 25, 2024: A new law mandating certain alcoholic beverage license holders to offer drug testing devices for sale or at no cost to patrons will take effect beginning July 1. Read More Here

DANVILLE: San Ramon Valley Unified School District Hosting “Celebrating and Protecting Our Youth” Event.

March 20, 2024: Join us to learn from and celebrate our local youth as they present their Capstone projects focused on commonly abused prescription medications, fentanyl and party drugs. A not-to-miss event to build awareness that can literally save a life.  FREE Naloxone overdose rescue kits for those who attend! Read more here

DANVILLE: San Ramon Valley Unified School District Hosting Prescription Drug Abuse Education Workshop.

March 19, 2024: The San Ramon Valley Unified School District is hosting a drug prevention workshop for parents and caretakers Wednesday entitled “Celebrating and protecting our youth – and learn to save a life.” The workshop will focus on prescription drug dangers, current drug trends among teens, and the possibility of Fentanyl exposure due to illegal drugs and misuse of prescriptions. Read more here

The workshop will take place Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m. at SRVUSD’s Education Center at 699 Old Orchard Drive in Danville.

DANVILLE: Town Council Present Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month Proclamation.

March 19, 2024: Danville Town Mayor Karen Stepper read a two-page proclamation declaring March, 2024, as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the March 19 City Council meeting. She later presented the document to April Rovero, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. You can watch the meeting here.

Danville Town Meeting Hall in Danville, California.

ALAMO: East Bay Doctor Gets Prison, Ordered to Give Up License for Distributing Opioids.

March 18, 2024:  An East Bay internal medicine doctor has been sentenced to federal prison and ordered to give up her medical license after admitting to illegally distributing powerful opioids, prosecutors said Monday. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California, a judge sentenced 59-year-old Parto Karimi of Alamo was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on Friday. Karimi pleaded guilty in July to one count of distributing hydrocodone outside the scope of a professional practice. Read more here. 

SAN RAMON: City Council Presents Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Proclamation. 

March 12, 2024: San Ramon Vice Mayor Scott Perkins read a two-page proclamation declaring March, 2024, as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the March 12 City Council meeting. She later presented the document to April Rovero, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. You can watch the meeting here.

The San Ramon City Hall in San Ramon, California

SAN RAMON: Market Place CVS Closing in April.

March 12, 2024: The CVS at 490 Market Place will close April 17, a company representative confirmed to Patch. All prescriptions will be transferred to the CVS pharmacy at 2455 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, though patients can fill their prescriptions at any pharmacy, online, or through the CVS pharmacy app. Read more here

CVS 490 Market Place in San Ramon, California

ORINDA: City Council Presents Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Proclamation.

March 5, 2024: Orinda Vice Mayor Latika Malkani read a two-page proclamation declaring March 2024, as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the March 5 City Council meeting. She later presented the document to Darris Thomas, an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Contra Costa County Medication Education and Disposal Safety (MEDS) Coalition. Read more here

Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Darris Thomas, accepting the proclamation from Orinda Vice Mayor Latika Malkani.

CONCORD: Linking Migrants with Fentanyl is Wrong & Dangerous.

March 2, 2024: Most illicit fentanyl is made abroad and smuggled over the southern border. But it’s largely brought by U.S. citizens. Read more here

The U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review of the federal Justice Department has leased 72,800 square fee at Concord Gateway II at 1855 Gateway Blvd. in Concord.

CONCORD: Man Charged With Murder in December Fentanyl Overdose.

January 3, 2024: A Concord man has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the accidental overdose death of a man who ingested counterfeit painkiller pills that contained the deadly drug fentanyl, authorities say. Fernando Gallaga, 27, was charged in December with murder in the death of Jesus Soto-Garcia, 26, by giving Soto-Garcia fentanyl pills that appeared to be an opiate painkiller, according to court records. Gallaga has not yet entered a plea, and is next due in court on Jan. 10. Authorities say that Soto-Garcia overdosed and died at Gallaga’s Concord home on Dec. 12. Read more here

A Concord police car. Photo: Concord Police Department.

SAN RAMON: Two San Ramon Police Officers Hospitalized After Drug Bust, Possible Fentanyl Exposure in Safeway Parking Lot.

December 27, 2023: Two officers with the San Ramon Police Department were taken to an area hospital Wednesday after being exposed to narcotics thought to be fentanyl during the arrest of two suspects in the parking lot of a Safeway store. Read More Here.

HERCULES: Following Hercules Traffic Stop Driver Arrested With A Variety of Drugs.

December 26, 2023: A probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted, and the officer located suspected marijuana, a suspected LSD sheet, suspected Percocet pills, suspected morphine laced with fentanyl, and suspected fentanyl. The driver was placed under arrest and booked into jail. Read More Here.

Drugs, cash and cell phones confiscated during traffic stop and arrest on Dec. 12, 2023. Photo: Hercules PD

ANTIOCH: Backpack With Drugs Located Outside of Antioch Middle School.

December 20, 2023: At 10:16 am on Wednesday, Contra Costa County firefighters responded to Antioch Middle School on a report of a backpack with drugs. Read More Here.

BRENTWOOD: Teen Overdoses: How Can We Prevent Them?

December 14, 2023: Students are dying at an alarming rate across America due to drug overdoses. With drug usage on the rise, we all need to do our part to try and keep youth from falling prey to death by overdose. Statistics in Contra Costa County in 2022 show that there have been at least 169 recorded opioid overdoses. Read More Here.

La Paloma High School in Brentwood, California

CONCORD: Contra Costa County Residents Can Access Behavioral Health Crisis Care 24/7. 

November 30, 2023:  People in Contra Costa County can get support during a behavioral health crisis 24/7, beginning Friday. Contra Costa Health said Tuesday that its A3 program will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People facing a behavioral health, mental health or substance use crisis can call the A3 Miles Hall Crisis Call Center 24/7 at 844-844-5544 for care over the phone and have an in-person team dispatched to them if needed. Read More Here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, call the A3 Miles Hall Crisis Call Center at 844-844-5544. Learn more at cchealth.org/a3 or watch a video about the program.

A community support worker with the A3 Miles Hall Crisis Call Center speaks with a client in an undated image from video. Contra Costa County is expanding the A3 program (which stands for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime) to offer around-the-clock behavioral health services beginning this Friday. The program is on pace to receive 4,500 calls this year alone. (Contra Costa Health/YouTube)

WALNUT CREEK: Walnut Creek Dentist Avoids Federal Prison in Painkiller Prescription-For-Cocaine Scheme. 

November 25, 2023:  Dr. Alireza Moheb was sentenced earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, after pleading guilty to a federal drug conspiracy count. The sentence was agreed upon by prosecutors, who noted that the “mitigating” factors behind Moheb’s crime — like his own struggles with addiction — warranted leniency. The sentence is one year of federal supervised release, avoiding jail or prison altogether, to resolve charges that he distributed prescriptions for opiate painkillers in exchange for cocaine from two Antioch drug dealers. Read More Here.

Dr. Alireza Moheb avoided federal prison after pleading guilty to a drug distribution charge.

ANTIOCH: Antioch to Respond to Grand Jury on Mental Health Response.

November 24, 2023: The Antioch City Council will look to approve its response to a request from the Contra Costa Grand Jury on its mental health crisis response. Back in October of 2022, the city council approved its own crisis response team versus working with Contra Costa County. It came with a cost of between $1.8 to $2.2 million per year and the city is using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the pilot. Since the launch, however, no data has been provided to the public on the program such as number of calls or program effectiveness. Read More Here.

Photo: Antioch City Council

More People Die After Smoking Drugs Than Injecting Them, U.S. Study Finds.

February 14, 2024: The study found that in late 2022, of the deaths for which a method was identified, 23% of the deaths occurred after smoking, 16% after injections, 16% after snorting, and 14.5% after swallowing. Tanz said she feels the data is nationally representative. Read more here.

A man prepares to smoke fentanyl on a park bench in downtown Portland, Ore., on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Smoking has surpassed injecting as the most common way of taking drugs in U.S. overdose deaths, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, File)

RODEO: School District Presents Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Proclamation.

February 14, 2024: Board President Stefanie Tavis and the John Sweet Unified School District Governing Board read a two-page proclamation declaring March, 2024, as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the April 1 School Board meeting. You can watch the meeting here.

California Prison Drug Overdoses Surge Again After Early Treatment Success.

February 13, 2024: Drug overdose deaths in California state prisons rebounded to near record levels last year, a big setback for corrections officials who thought they were on the right track with medication-assisted treatment efforts. Prison officials and attorneys representing prisoners blame fentanyl. Read more here.

In 2016, prison medical staff in California began carrying naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses and is often sold under the Narcan brand. Seven years later, it was made centrally available in every housing unit for officers’ emergency use. (Alessandra Bergamin/KFF Health News)

Food & Drug Administration Warns Addictive ‘Gas Station Heroin’ Supplement Widely Available in the United States. 

February 13, 2024: The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about a potentially addictive dietary supplement that’s widely available in the U.S. “Neptune’s Fix” is often sold as a supplement and features an ingredient called tianeptine, popularly known as “gas-station heroin.” Read more here.

Riverside County: Palm Springs Council Approves First $215K from Opioid Lawsuit Settlements. 

February 12, 2024: After gaining roughly $215,000 in settlement money by joining opioid lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Palm Springs will use the funding for a variety of programs designed to help those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Read more here.

Workers help position a harm reduction vending machine at Hunter’s in Palm Springs, California.

Alameda County: Oakland Man Convicted for Dealing Fentanyl, Meth in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

February 9, 2024: An Oakland man faces more than four years behind bars for dealing deadly drugs on the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, officials announced. Fernando Aguilar, 31, was convicted on charges of possession for sale of fentanyl and methamphetamine, both felonies. Read more here.

 

Stanislaus County: Fentanyl Deaths Reach Record High in Stanislaus County. 

February 9, 2024: Stanislaus County continues to see a rising death toll from the fentanyl crisis that grips California and the nation. The county had 135 deaths caused by fentanyl overdose or poisoning in 2023, up from 128 the previous year, according to new data released Thursday by county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Read more here.

DEA Reverses Decisions Stripping Drug Distributor of Licenses for Fueling Opioid Crisis. 

February 9, 2024: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is allowing one of the nation’s largest wholesale drug distributors to stay in business, reversing an earlier order stripping the company of its licenses for its failure to properly monitor the shipment of tens of millions of addictive painkillers blamed for fueling the opioid crisis. Read more here.

Higher-Dose Nasal Spray for Reversing Opioid Overdoses Did Not Save More Lives, Researchers Find.

February 8, 2024:  A new, higher-dose nasal spray for reversing opioid overdoses did not save more lives than the previous standard dose, but it did cause more vomiting and other side effects, researchers wrote in a study published Thursday. The 8-milligram naloxone spray — twice as potent as the highest dose previously available — was approved two years ago after pressure from experts and patient advocates who noted lower-dose antidotes often were being given multiple times to people suffering overdoses. Read more here.

This image provided by Hikma Pharmaceuticals shows the company’s nasal spray drug Kloxxado, containing 8 milligrams of naloxone. A study published Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024 finds that a new, higher-dose nasal spray for reversing opioid overdoses didn’t save more lives than the standard dose. However, it was tied to more vomiting and other side effects. The paper was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the federal health agency was not involved in the research. (Hikma Pharmaceuticals via AP, File)

San Diego County: San Diego Man Sentenced to More Than Eight Years for Fentanyl Sale That Caused Fatal Overdose. 

February 6, 2024: A San Diego man who sold fentanyl pills to a woman, leading to her fatal overdose, was sentenced Monday to 97 months in prison. 29-year-old Derek Neal Turfler pleaded guilty to selling pills to Faithe Sioban Thogode, 27, who fatally overdosed on May 9, 2022. Read more here.

Santa Clara County: San Jose-based eBay will pay $59M settlement over pill presses sold online. 

February 1, 2024: The e-commerce giant eBay will pay $59 million in a settlement with the Justice Department over thousands of pill press machines sold on the platform. Read more here

Riverside County: Three People Arrested on Suspicion of Murder in California Man’s Fentanyl Overdose. 

February 1, 2024: Three people have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man died of a fentanyl overdose in Riverside, police announced Wednesday, Jan. 31. Read more here.

A scenic road in Palm Springs, California.

US and China launch talks on fentanyl trafficking in a sign of cooperation amid differences.

January 30, 2024: American and Chinese officials committed Tuesday to working together to stem the flow of fentanyl into the United States, the head of a visiting U.S. delegation said. Their meeting was a hopeful sign of cooperation as the two global powers try to better manage their contentious ties. Read more here

DEA Encourages Communities to Make Every Day Take-Back Day.

January 24, 2024: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a new campaign encouraging the public to make Every Day Take Back Day by utilizing year-round collection sites to dispose of unneeded and unwanted medications. Read more here

San Joaquin County: ‘Zombie drug’ Xylazine should be criminalized, Rep. Harder says. 

January 24, 2024: “Xylazine is making the fentanyl crisis even more deadly, and we need to do more to keep this ‘zombie drug’ away from our kids and off our streets,” said Rep. Harder. “This drug is meant to tranquilize thousand-pound horses. Now, it’s being mixed with the deadliest drug in America. You can read the press release here.

Leonardo Dominguez Gomez, field researcher with the New York City Department of Health, holds up drug tests used to detect the presence of xylazine in different kinds of drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, at St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction on May 25, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Federal Lawmakers Take First Steps Toward Oversight of $50 Billion in Opioid Settlements.

January 22, 2024: Some members of Congress are demanding federal oversight of billions of dollars in opioid settlements, which state and local governments began spending over the past two years — with some using it to plug budget holes rather than fight the addiction crisis. Read more here

The U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 18. Some members of Congress are demanding federal oversight of billions of dollars in opioid settlements, which state and local governments began spending over the past two years — with some using it to plug budget holes rather than fight the addiction crisis.

Deep winter freeze creates issues for life-saving drug Narcan.

January 18, 2024: This deep winter freeze we are experiencing is not good for the life-saving drug naloxone, or Narcan, used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. But Narcan can freeze, making it impossible to administer. Read more here

People buying opioids and sedatives online face deadly fakes, expert warns.

January 17, 2024: National Crime Agency reveals 65 people have died from taking nitazenes, which are up to 100 times stronger than heroin. Read more here

Nitazenes have been linked with deaths and found in tablets as well as in powder form.

Teen Drug Overdoses Hit Record High in 2022, Driven Primarily by Fentanyl Poisoning.

January 12, 2024: A record number of high school teens died of drug overdoses in 2022 in an alarming trend driven primarily by fentanyl poisonings from counterfeit pills, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Boston researchers found that an average of 22 adolescents ages 14 to 18 years old died each week in the U.S. from drug overdoses in 2022. Read more here

A record number of high school teens died of drug overdoses in 2022 in an alarming trend driven primarily by fentanyl poisonings from counterfeit pills.

January 12, 2024: Jelly Roll brought up his past demons in front of Congress Thursday, when he gave a powerful speech against the deadly use of fentanyl in America. The rapper and country music star, who won the new artist of the year award at the 2023 CMA Awards, addressed the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and urged legislators to establish a bill to combat the supply and distribution of the synthetic opioid in the U.S. at a hearing on “stopping the flow of fentanyl.” Jelly Roll, 39, whose real name is Jason DeFord, was candid about his past run-ins with the law, multiple arrests and serving jail time for drug charges and aggravated robbery. “I brought my community down. I hurt people,” he continued. “I believed when I sold drugs genuinely that selling drugs was a victimless crime. I truly believed that.” Read more here

The country music star appealed to members of Congress about the crisis, sharing his personal connection to the problem.

San Francisco County: San Francisco Loses Out on Mental Health Beds Outside the City.

January 10, 2024: Mayor London Breed on Tuesday will unveil a plan to cut through the city’s bureaucratic red tape to reduce wait times and bring new mental health and substance abuse treatment beds online faster. “People are in crisis, and we can’t allow delays and bureaucracy to get in the way of getting people help,” Breed said in a statement. “Our goal is to be able to deliver services as quickly as possible, and by removing these barriers, we can be ready when there are opportunities available to add beds to our system.” Read more here.

Mayor London Breed on Tuesday will unveil a plan to cut through the city’s bureaucratic red tape to reduce wait times and bring new mental health and substance abuse treatment beds online faster.

San Francisco County: Health & Biotech Conference Begins in San Francisco.

January 9, 2024: San Francisco’s Union Square was filled Monday with thousands of people as the city became the epicenter of the health care and biotech industries for the week. JPMorgan Chase’s 42nd annual health care conference is billed as the biggest in the world. Read More Here.

Attendees of the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference and other pedestrians walk on Powell Street outside the Westin St. Francis hotel on Monday in San Francisco. The conference runs through Thursday.

January 8, 2024: Building a caring, trusting community through compassionate care! Drug Harm Reduction Program leaders highlight how TUC students and faculty from all programs can support the Vallejo community through the program. Read More Here.

Dr. Christina Kinnevey-Greig (left) and student doctor Amrit Banga (right)

Woman Petitions Health Insurer After Company Approves — Then Rejects — Her Infusions.

January 4, 2024: When KFF Health News published an article in August about the “prior authorization hell” Sally Nix said she went through to secure approval from her insurance company for the expensive monthly infusions she needs, we thought her story had a happy ending. That’s because, after KFF Health News sent questions to Nix’s insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, it retroactively approved $36,000 worth of treatments she thought she owed. Even better, she also learned she would qualify for the infusions moving forward. Good news all around — except it didn’t last for long. After all, this is the U.S. health care system, where even patients with good insurance aren’t guaranteed affordable care. Read more here.

Sally Nix said she went through “prior authorization hell” to secure approval from her insurance company for the expensive monthly infusions she needs to manage a pain disorder. So, it felt like whiplash when she learned the approval was being withheld again. In September, she called out the insurer’s tactics in a Change.org campaign that has garnered more than 21,000 signatures.(Logan Cyrus for KFF Health News)
 

Suicide-Prevention Net on Golden Gate Bridge Finally Finished.

January 4, 2024: City officials approved the project more than a decade ago. On Wednesday, officials announced that crews have finished installing stainless-steel nets on both sides of the 1.7-mile bridge. Read More Here.

A suicide deterrent net is seen under construction on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. The barrier at the bridge is near completion more than a decade after officials approved it. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

January 3, 2024: The Medical Board of California, which licenses MDs, is developing a program to evaluate, treat, and monitor doctors with alcohol and drug problems. But there is sharp disagreement over whether those who might volunteer for the program should be subject to public disclosure and over how much participants should pay. Read More Here.

Ariella Morrow, a Los Angeles-area internist, fell into a deep depression and started drinking heavily after a succession of family traumas and a major professional setback. She finally sought help for alcohol dependence and depression at a clinic in Texas.(Bernard J. Wolfson/KFF Health News)

December 28, 2023: Mental health courts have been touted as a means to help reduce the flow of people with mental illness into jails and prisons. But the specialized diversion programs can struggle to live up to that promise, and some say they’re a bad investment. Read More Here.

The George D. Carroll Courthouse in Richmond, California.

California Becomes First State to Offer Health Insurance to all Eligible Undocumented Adults.

December 28, 2023: Undocumented Californians are leaving health care clinics with “smiles” after they learn they’re newly eligible for Medi-Cal insurance. The health insurance expansion was decades in the making for immigrant advocates. Read More Here.

Benefits counselor Perla Lopez assists an undocumented adult at St. John’s Community Health in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 2023. Undocumented adult will become eligible for Medi-Cal health care coverage in the new year. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters.

Kratom, often marketed as a health product, faces scrutiny over danger to consumers.

December 27, 2023: The FDA says nearly 2 million Americans used the herbal supplement kratom in 2021 to treat pain, anxiety and opioid withdrawal. But the supplement is now being blamed for addiction, seizures and deaths. Read More Here.

Fresh green Kratom leaf (Mitragyna speciosa) with kratom powder capsule isolated on wooden table background. Top view. Flat lay.

Drug Considered Ten Times More Potent than Fentanyl Detected for the First Time in the United States.

December 27, 2023: The drug, which is a type of opioid called a nitazene, is considered to be 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, nitazenes were originally developed by researchers 60 years ago as an alternative of morphine. Read More Here.

A new investigation finds nitazenes are 1,000 times more potent than morphine, which makes them 10 times more power than fentanyl. Photo courtesy of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

December 27, 2023: Two officers with the San Ramon Police Department were taken to an area hospital Wednesday after being exposed to narcotics thought to be fentanyl during the arrest of two suspects in the parking lot of a Safeway store. Read More Here.

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is on-scene decontaminating a vehicle suspected of containing fentanyl. 

December 26, 2023: A probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted, and the officer located suspected marijuana, a suspected LSD sheet, suspected Percocet pills, suspected morphine laced with fentanyl, and suspected fentanyl. The driver was placed under arrest and booked into jail. Read More Here.

Drugs, cash and cell phones confiscated during traffic stop and arrest on December 12, 2023. Photo: Hercules Police Department

December 26, 2023: The American Medical Association has called for school staff to “put naloxone in schools so it can save lives,” and more recently issued a statement in conjunction with other organizations encouraging states, schools and local communities to allow students to carry naloxone in schools of all grade levels. Read More Here.

Narcan nasal sprays

December 20, 2023: At 10:16 am on Wednesday, Contra Costa County firefighters responded to Antioch Middle School on a report of a backpack with drugs. Read More Here.

Antioch Middle School in Antioch, California

December 14, 2023: For the first time in recent years, fentanyl surpassed methamphetamine as the most common drug listed as a cause of overdose deaths. Fentanyl was blamed in almost 60% of all accidental drug or alcohol overdoses in 2022. Read More Here.

In 2022, fentanyl was linked to more overdose deaths in L.A. County than meth for the first time in recent years. The county Department of Public Health also reported more white victims of the opioid, but a higher rate of deaths among Black Angelenos.

Fentanyl has killed at least 5 Bay Area babies since 2020.

December 18, 2023: At least five children younger than 2 have died from fentanyl overdoses since 2020, including three in the South Bay since May. Here’s a look at the tragic toll. Read More Here.

Three Bay Area children under the age of two have died from fentanyl poisoning since May. From left, Winter Rayo, 19-month-old, Phoenix Castro, 3-month-old, and Kristofer Ferreyra, 23-month-old. (Photos, from left, Facebook, courtesy of Edward Morillo and courtesy of Viviana Vera)

December 14, 2023: San Francisco has surpassed its deadliest year for accidental drug overdose deaths, a dreaded milestone reached a month before the new year. In the first 11 months of 2023, San Francisco recorded 752 deaths. That’s 26 more than the previous peak of 726 deaths in all of 2020. Fatal overdoses have risen at especially alarming rates among Latino and Black people, the latest figures show. Read More Here.

Deaths have climbed this year despite an effort by state and city leaders to disrupt the drug trafficking market in San Francisco.

December 14, 2023: Students are dying at an alarming rate across America due to drug overdoses. With drug usage on the rise, we all need to do our part to try and keep youth from falling prey to death by overdose. Statistics in Contra Costa County in 2022 show that there have been at least 169 recorded opioid overdoses. Read More Here.

La Paloma High School (Brentwood, CA)

December 13, 2023: Nearly a year after the state of Montana began receiving millions of dollars to invest in efforts to combat the opioid crisis, much of that money remains untouched. Meanwhile, the state’s opioid overdose and death counts continue to rise. Read More Here.

December 11, 2023: In 2022, about 400 people died from unintentional drug overdoses in San Francisco with both fentanyl and a stimulant in their system. Read More Here.

Chi Minie, left, who struggles with homelessness, walks with his bicycle and a friends on Mission Street in San Francisco.

December 8, 2023: States and counties look to expand programs that accept donations of unused surplus drugs from places like nursing homes and hospitals and redistribute them to low-income and uninsured residents. Read More Here.

Donated prescription drugs are shown in this photo taken at Open Bible Clinic and Pharmacy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Nov. 7, 2023. (This photo has been blurred to protect patients’ privacy.) (Kate Ruder for KFF Health News)

December 8, 2023: Today, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a joint letter to public health departments and health care systems to partner with housing providers, community development organizations, and other housing agencies to help expand access to naloxone and other life-saving overdose reversal medications in the communities they serve. Read More Here.

As part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda priority to beat the overdose epidemic, federal agencies are working with housing and support services providers to improve access to life-saving measures like naloxone, destigmatize substance use disorder, and promote recovery.

December 6, 2023: Six Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals are ranked among the nation’s best for providing safe, high-quality patient care, according to the Leapfrog Group’s 2023 Top Hospital award. The six Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals to receive the award include: Antioch, Richmond, San Leandro, San Rafael, Santa Clara and South San Francisco. Read More Here.

Source: Kaiser Permanente

December 5, 2023: At least 10 babies — possibly more than 12 — have been identified with what doctors believe to be a new syndrome related to exposure to fentanyl in the womb. All of the infants have distinctive physical birth defects, such as cleft palate and unusually small heads. …All were born to mothers who said they’d used street drugs, particularly fentanyl, while they were pregnant. Read More Here.

Six babies from the Nemours analysis in a photo published in an article in Genetics in Medicine Open, by Erin Wadman, et al., “A novel syndrome associated with prenatal fentanyl exposure.

City of Richmond Proclaims December 1st as World AIDS Day. 

December 1, 2023: The City of Richmond issued a proclamation recognizing December 1st as World AIDS Day. Last night, there was a small gathering at City Hall to remember the many lives that have been lost to the virus. Read the proclamation below. 

 

November 30, 2023: People in Contra Costa County can get support during a behavioral health crisis 24/7, beginning Friday. Contra Costa Health said Tuesday that its A3 program will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People facing a behavioral health, mental health or substance use crisis can call the A3 Miles Hall Crisis Call Center 24/7 at 844-844-5544 for care over the phone and have an in-person team dispatched to them if needed. Read More Here.

A community support worker with the A3 Miles Hall Crisis Call Center speaks with a client in an undated image from video. Contra Costa County is expanding the A3 program (which stands for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime) to offer around-the-clock behavioral health services beginning this Friday. The program is on pace to receive 4,500 calls this year alone. (Contra Costa Health/YouTube)

November 29, 2023: Amid a growing drug overdose crisis and debate over how the state should respond, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced he will sponsor legislation to increase penalties for the trafficking of xylazine, the deadly and flesh-rotting animal tranquilizer drug known as “tranq.” Read More Here.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento on February 27.

November 28, 2023: A Concord teenager who donated his organs to save the lives of others will be honored at the 135th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

Joseph “Joe” Barratt, 18, was walking home from a library when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver near Highway 4 on Feb. 10, 2020. The popular Concord High School student spent three days in a trauma center at John Muir Health in Walnut Creek. Read More Here.

Joseph “Joe” Barratt (Image Courtesy Sutter Health)

November 28, 2023: The DEA used info from Diamond Lynch’s phone to find where she got the drugs that killed her, a trail that stretched from Washington, D.C., to California to Mexico. Read More Here.

 

Fentanyl pills found in luggage at Los Angeles International Airport as part of “Operation Blues Brothers.”

November 25, 2023: Dr. Alireza Moheb was sentenced earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, after pleading guilty to a federal drug conspiracy count. The sentence was agreed upon by prosecutors, who noted that the “mitigating” factors behind Moheb’s crime — like his own struggles with addiction — warranted leniency. The sentence is one year of federal supervised release, avoiding jail or prison altogether, to resolve charges that he distributed prescriptions for opiate painkillers in exchange for cocaine from two Antioch drug dealers. Read More Here.

Dr. Alireza Moheb avoided federal prison after pleading guilty to a drug distribution charge.

November 25, 2023: John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Medical Center recently attained Magnet recognition again, which is a testament to its continued dedication to high-quality nursing practice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program® distinguishes health care organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. This credential is the highest national honor for professional nursing practice. Read More Here.

Photo: John Muir Health Walnut Creek Medical Center

November 23, 2023: The agreement by the maker of OxyContin to settle thousands of lawsuits over the harm done by opioids could help combat the overdose epidemic that the painkiller helped spark. But that does not mean all the victims are satisfied.

In exchange for giving up ownership of drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma and for contributing up to $6 billion to fight the crisis, members of the wealthy Sackler family would be exempt from any civil lawsuits. At the same time, they could potentially keep billions of dollars from their profits on OxyContin sales. Read More Here.

Lynn Wencus, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, stands for a photograph while holding a photo of her son Jeff at her home, in Wrentham, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Wencus lost Jeff to a heroin overdose in 2017. Families who lost loved ones to overdose are divided over OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s plan to settle lawsuits over the toll of opioids with governments. It could provide billions to address an overdose epidemic and pay some victims. But it would also protect members of the Sackler family who own the company from future lawsuits. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

November 23, 2023: Authorities administered Narcan but failed to revive two people found unresponsive at BART stations in Oakland and San Francisco on Wednesday night. BART police also provided Narcan in a third incident, to a man suffering from an apparent drug overdose at the Richmond Station platform about 1:20 a.m. Thursday. The man regained consciousness after three doses and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said. Read More Here.

The Richmond BART station

November 21, 2023: Contra Costa Health (CCH) will build a new mental health rehabilitation center and fill a critical gap in county mental health services, thanks to an $18.6 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

The facility, planned for a county-owned property at 847 Brookside Drive in Richmond, will serve patients experiencing serious mental illness who need 24-hour residential care, but don’t need hospitalization. Residents who need that level of care must now travel out of the community – sometimes across the state – to find it. Read More Here.

November 19, 2023: Government regulators are seeking to block John Muir Health’s acquisition of San Ramon Regional Medical Center from Tenet Healthcare, citing concerns about the planned deal’s potential to reduce competition for health care in the valley and thereby threatening quality and costs to patients. Read More Here.

San Ramon Regional Medical Center had been poised for a change in ownership prior to FTC action on November 17 seeking to block the deal.

November 14, 2023: Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Oct. 8 requiring all California State Universities to provide fentanyl testing strips on campus. The California Assembly Bill 461 requires every CSU health center to stock and distribute fentanyl testing strips. Alongside every kit, there will be instructions on how to use the test strips as well as information about opioids. The testing strips will allow students to detect the presence of fentanyl in different kinds of drugs preventing overdose. Read More Here.

An aerial view of California State University East Bay’s campus in Concord, California

November 13, 2023: Nearly 49 million people in the US ages 12 and older – more than 1 in 6 – had a substance use disorder in 2022, according to survey data released Monday by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Of those, about 30 million people had an alcohol use disorder, and 27 million had a drug use disorder, including about 6 million with a opioid use disorder. About 8 million people had both alcohol and drug use disorders, the survey found. Substance use disorders were considered severe for more than 1 in 5 people. Read More Here.

More than 6 million people in the US had an opioid use disorder in 2022, according to federal survey data.

Wheatland High School to Host Narcan, Fentanyl Education Program.

November 11, 2023: Wheatland Union High School will host a fentanyl education program on November 16 to teach parents and community members about the effects of prescription drug use as well as ways to save someone from an overdose. Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is a life-saving medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The school’s “One Pill Can Kill” program will teach attendants how to administer the medication along with other ways to help someone experiencing an overdose.

Attendants will also receive free packages of Narcan at the end of the presentation, officials said. The program will feature guest speakers from the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Use and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The coalition is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to preventing prescription drug and opioid abuse and overdose deaths. The Drug Enforcement Administration was established by the U.S Department of Justice to prevent, detect, and investigate the diversion of controlled substances. Read more here.

Lisa Phillips hands a package of Narcan to an attendant as part of the “One Pill Can Kill” program at Wheatland Union High School.

Richmond Event Promotes Well-Being for Those Dealing with Substance Abuse.

November 10, 2023: A group of young adults led the second annual Rich City Kickback in Richmond, California, which offered massage, meditation and other healthy alternatives for dealing with mental health than using drugs and alcohol. Read more here.

A group of young adults led the second annual Rich City Kickback in Richmond which offered massage, meditation and other healthy alternatives for dealing with mental health than using drugs and alcohol.

Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse Fight to Save Local Youth.

November 10, 2023: Imagine hearing that your child has died after taking just one pill from a “friend” because after studying all evening, he or she went to a party and felt sleepy. The friend said: “Take this. It will help you to stay awake.”

Instead your child goes to sleep. Forever.

Sadly, this is far too common a story these days. According to data from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, there were 208 Fentanyl overdoses in Riverside County between January and May of 2023. Of those, 55 occurred in the Coachella Valley. In 2022, 519 people overdosed in Riverside County; 137 of those occurred in the Coachella Valley.

MAPDA (Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse) is active here in the valley and ready to tackle this problem by having conversations with our youth. Read more here.

Janet Janes, who lost her 19-year-old son to a methadone overdose, founded Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse

November 9, 2023: For decades, students have been told to just say no to drugs. The message was repeated in public service announcements and in classroom presentations. But research shows this approach alone doesn’t work. And now, overdose deaths among teenagers have skyrocketed — largely due to fentanyl. The synthetic opioid was involved in the vast majority of teen overdose deaths in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of those deaths involved fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills that didn’t come from a pharmacy. And the problem has followed teens onto college campuses.

Some experts say drug education that focuses on harm reduction techniques – designed to keep people safe when they do choose to use – could help save lives. Here’s what that looks like. Read More Here.

 

November 8, 2023: At least 107, 422 people died of drug overdoses in the United States between April 2022 and March 2023, more than double the 52, 404 deaths in 2015. Of those, 631 deaths were in San Francisco County and 11, 403 in CaliforniaRead More Here.

 

November 7, 2023: California congressional representatives Adam Schiff and Raul Ruiz, M.D., recently introduced the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses Act (HERO) Act, legislation that would save lives by expanding access to opioid overdose reversal drugs, such as Narcan (naloxone), in schools, providing critical training for staff, and implementing educational resources for students and communities to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. Read More Here

 

November 6, 2023: Recent research shows California to be one of the most restrictive states in the country regarding methadone, with regulations mandating that patients jump through additional hoops to stay in treatment. For example, patients must participate in at least 50 minutes of counseling each month, even if it’s with a counselor they don’t like or if they don’t find counseling helpful. Patients are also required to submit more observed urine drug tests than federally required to be eligible for so-called “take-home” doses of methadone. And if they receive more than a week’s worth of take-home methadone doses, they must own a phone so they can be called and asked to show up to the clinic immediately to have their medication bottles counted. Read More Here

 Volunteer Eli Smith helps to revive a man near a pop-up overdose prevention site in San Francisco on August 31.

November 4, 2023: While parents worry about fentanyl, they need to worry about Pink too. The drug is very deadly, cheap, and easy to get. Read More Here

Senate Response to Fentanyl in Mexican Pharmacies

November 2, 2023: A few lines in a Senate appropriations proposal could force U.S. officials to confront a deadly threat they ignored for years: Counterfeit, fentanyl-laced painkillers sold at pharmacies in Mexico. If approved, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken would have 90 days to draft a report that would — for the first time — reveal key details about overdoses caused by fake pills sold in Mexican drug stores. Read More Here. 

Terry and Celia Harms at their home in Warwick, R.I., in April 2023. The couple’s 29-year-old son Jonathan died in 2017 after taking a counterfeit pill made of fentanyl that he bought at a pharmacy in Cancún, Mexico, to treat a migraine. 
(Aram Boghosian / For The Times)

Sonoma State University Student’s Death Inspires Opioid Education Program

November 2, 2023: Early in his freshman year at Sonoma State University, Trevor Leopold called his parents at home in Marin County and invited them to dinner. Read More Here. 

Michelle Leopold, left, and Emma Beckerle, founder of End Overdose at SSU, talk to Margaret Pavey about the program on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Leopold’s son died of fentanyl poisoning in 2019. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Senate Bill Would Permanently Extend Covid-19 Era Rules on Telehealth Addiction Treatment

November 2, 2023: The measure, known as the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services Act — TREATS, for short — would permanently extend a temporary, Covid-era policy that allowed patients to receive buprenorphine remotely, without an in-person visit. Read More Here

 
 

October 30, 2023: Overdose deaths among teens have been on the rise for years and now the Biden administration is urging schools to purchase and carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Read More Here

 
 
Photo: President Joe Biden

October 30, 2023: A San Pablo Police Department K-9 officer assisted in a drug bust Thursday night in which over 1,100 ecstasy pills were seized. K-9 officer Swaleh pulled over a car Thursday, San Pablo PD said. Read More Here

 
 
Photo: San Pablo PD

Using Opioid Settlement Cash for Police Gear Like Squad Cars and Scanners Spark Debate

October 27, 2023: Directing the funds to police has triggered difficult questions about what the money was meant for and whether such spending truly helps save lives. Read More Here

Members of People’s Action, a national advocacy organization representing working and poor people, gather outside the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2023, to call for an end to a criminal justice approach to addiction — pushing instead for investments in health care and housing.

October 26, 2023: The annual National Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, October 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You can take unneeded medications to the following locations: 

  • The Office of the County Sheriff, 1850 Muir Road in Martinez, CA
  • Sandy Cove Shopping Center (between CVS and Safeway) at 14840 Highway 4 in Discovery Bay, CA
  • Brentwood Police Department, 9100 Brentwood Blvd in Brentwood, CA

 Read More Here

 
An aerial view of the Sandy Cove Shopping Center in Discovery Bay, California. On Saturday, October 28, you can bring your expired and unneeded medications here between CVS and Safeway from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

October 27, 2023: On Saturday, October 28, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, or unused prescription drugs. Read More Here

 
A screenshot of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office hosting DEA Take-Back Day. On Saturday, October 28, you can bring your expired and unneeded medications here from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

October 27, 2023: On Saturday, October 28, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) invite residents of Lamorinda and Contra Costa County to participate in National Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday. Read more here.

Drop-Off Locations in Contra Costa County:

  • Lafayette Police Department, 3471 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
  • Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda
  • Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez
  • Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond
  • Valley Station, 150 Alamo Plaza, #C, Alamo
  • Delta Station, 14830 Highway 4, Discovery Bay
  • Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville
A screenshot of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office hosting DEA Take-Back Day. On Saturday, October 28, you can bring your expired and unneeded medications here from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

October 27, 2023: On Saturday, October 28, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) invite residents of Lamorinda and Contra Costa County to participate in National Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday. Read more here.

Drop-Off Locations in Contra Costa County:

  • Lafayette Police Department, 3471 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
  • Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda
  • Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez
  • Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond
  • Valley Station, 150 Alamo Plaza, #C, Alamo
  • Delta Station, 14830 Highway 4, Discovery Bay
  • Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville
A screenshot of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office hosting DEA Take-Back Day. On Saturday, October 28, you can bring your expired and unneeded medications here from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

October 23, 2023: American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s leading provider of urgent care, accessible primary care, and occupational medicine, continues its West Coast expansion with the opening of its newest location in Brentwood, California. The new clinic aims offer accessible and convenient medical care to the rapidly growing East Bay region. Read More Here

American Family Care’s newest location in Brentwood, California

October 23, 2023: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 43, which updates California’s conservatorship laws for the first time in more than 50 years. The new law, authored by Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), updates the definition for conservatorship to include people who are unable to provide for their personal safety or medical care due to severe substance use disorder or serious mental illnesses. Read More Here

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 43, which updates California’s conservatorship laws for the first time in more than 50 years.

October 20, 2023: Starting treatment with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) via telehealth is associated with longer retention in treatment compared with starting treatment in-person, new research suggests. Read More Here

 

October 18, 2023: Parents whose children died after taking drugs containing fentanyl were inside a Los Angeles courtroom, hoping a judge will allow their lawsuit against the social media company Snapchat to move forward. The lawsuit also alleges Snapchat’s platform makes it difficult for law enforcement to track down evidence of illegal activity. Read More Here

LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Long Beach Attorney Disbarred for Trafficking Oxycodone on Craigslist.

October 18, 2023: Long Beach attorney Jackie Ferrari was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to selling the powerful painkiller to an undercover informant. Read more here

Rite-Aid, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to close a number of stores across the United States amid slumping sales and lawsuits related to accusations that it helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY: Rite-Aid to Close 31 California Locations as Part of Bankruptcy Plan.

October 18, 2023: National pharmacy chain Rite Aid revealed this week that it will close 31 stores in California — two of them in the South Bay — as part of a financial restructuring plan prompted by slumping sales and opioid-related lawsuits. Read more here

Rite-Aid, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to close a number of stores across the United States amid slumping sales and lawsuits related to accusations that it helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

CALIFORNIA: Here’s What California Schools Must Now Do to Prepare for a Fentanyl Overdose on Campus.

October 17, 2023: New law will require schools to have a safety plan but stops short of mandating they stock Narcan. Read more here.

Cindy Chavez, mayoral candidate and Santa Clara County Supervisor, and Geralyn Maul-Vasquez, whose son died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020, stand behind Senator Dave Cortese as he talks about introducing legislation to prevent fentanyl youth poisoning deaths during a press conference behind the Santa Clara County building in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

SACRAMENTO: Governor Newsom Approves ‘Melanie’s Law’ Requiring Fentanyl Safety Plans in California Schools

October 16, 2023: Middle and high school students across California will be protected by a new law requiring life-saving prevention and response resources for fentanyl overdoses under legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsome on Friday. Newsom announced on Friday that he had signed Senate Bill 10 or “Melanie’s Law”, introduced by Senator Dave Cortese (Democrat from San Jose), which aims to prevent and respond to youth fentanyl overdoses through mandated school safety plans requiring prevention, response, training, education, and awareness. Read More Here

 
 

SACRAMENTO: Bill to Create Fentanyl Task Force Signed Into Law. 

October 14, 2023: Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains’ bill to form a statewide Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force. Read more here.

In her first day in office, Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains submitted her first bill, Assembly Bill 33, which would create a task force focused on tackling the ongoing fentanyl crisis, a nationwide issue that contributes heavily to lethal and nonlethal overdoses in the Central Valley. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Bill to Create Fentanyl Task Force Signed Into Law.

October 12, 2023: Senate Bill 234, authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) was signed into law by Governor Newsome. The measure address the rise in opioid-related deaths by making opioid antagonists such as Narcan readily available in places accessed by high-risk age groups. Read more here.

“It is crucial that we place Narcan in spaces frequently accessed by California’s youth, given the severe risk posed by our state’s growing opioid crisis. This medication has the potential to save lives. Current law makes it optional to use Narcan for emergency purposes and that’s not sufficient. SB 234 will make it readily available. I appreciate Governor Newsom for recognizing the significance of the opioid epidemic and signing this life-saving bill into law.” Senator Anthoy J. Portantino (D – Burbank)

October 10, 2023:  Yesterday, after four days of deliberation, a jury in Contra Costa County returned guilty verdicts against the parents who abused their infant son – which caused his death. The injuries to the baby included a broken femur, burn marks on his face and other parts of his body, fractured ribs, a skull fracture, and bleeding inside his skull. Additionally, the child suffered from severe malnutrition, and dehydration — as well as testing positive for methamphetamine. Read more here

Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez, California

CALIFORNIA: Some California School Campuses Will Be Required to Stock Fentanyl Tests.

October 9, 2023:  The bill, AB 461, applies to California State Universities and community colleges and requires them to stock the tests and provide information about how to use them. The bill also requests that University of California campuses comply with the requirements. Read More Here

PLEASANT HILL: Information About Teenagers, Opioids, & Fentanyl Parents Need.

October 8, 2023: The problem with drugs has become overwhelming. Dr. Michael Rubino, a licensed psychotherapist with offices in Pleasant Hill and Pittsburg, provides information about opioids, fentanyl and teenagers in 2023 that parents need. Read More Here.

PLEASANT HILL: Diablo Valley College Seeks to Combat Opioid Epidemic Through Overdose Prevention Trainings.

September 28, 2023: Diablo Valley College hosted the first in a series of online training to educate students and faculty about opioid overdose prevention and provided instruction in the use of the emergency drug Naloxone, better known under its brand name Narcan. Read more here.

Diablo Valley College Commons Area (Pleasant Hill, CA)

MORAGA: Saint Mary’s College of California Offers Students a Myriad of Support Through Annual Wellness Fair. 

September 27, 2023: Saint Mary’s College of California began its 2023-2024 school year with its annual Wellness Fair, which is held every September. The fair’s purpose is to provide vocational, spiritual, financial, environmental, physical, social, mental, and emotional support for not only freshman but for anyone needing a “well-being” void filled in their lives. Held September 20 at Dante Hall’s grassy quad with the scent of free barbecue wafting in the air, students in between classes came out to enjoy the moment and receive information at several booths touting a variety of services, including pet therapy, to meet anyone’s needs. Read more here.

Saint Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA)

CALIFORNIA: California Spent $40 Million On An Opioid Awareness Campaign. Fentanyl is Still Killing Nearly 20 People A Day. 

September 24, 2023: Frustrated over floundering fentanyl legislation, state lawmakers say the money could have been better spent. To read more, click here
Twan Lewis, a resident of a homeless camp on West Grand Avenue in Oakland, California, reflects on the state’s new campaign to prioritize media campaigns against fentanyl use rather than passing bills to mandate Narcan availability. 

MARTINEZ: Counties Where The Most Opioids Are Dispensed in California. 

September 22, 2023: Overall in California, the opioid dispensing rate was 28.5 per 100 people, compared to 43.3 nationally. Read more here

Contra Costa County’s opioid dispensing rate is 22.9 per 100 people — 19.6% lower than the state average and 47.1% lower than the national average. 

CALIFORNIA: California Lawmakers Pushing for a Federal Fight Against Fentanyl With New Bill.

September 21, 2023: California Republican lawmaker Kevin Riley joined forces with Oregon Democratic lawmaker Suzanne Bonamici to raise awareness on a national scale about the fentanyl poisoning epidemic by introducing a bill called the Fentanyl Awareness for Children & Teens in Schools (FACTS) Act. To read more, click here
September 14, 2023: The United States is facing a fourth wave of the opioid crisis, marked by a significant increase in overdose deaths caused by a combination of stimulants and fentanyl, according to a study. Overdose deaths in the country surpassed 100,000 in 2021, with synthetic opioids accounting for 75% of those deaths. The combination of fentanyl and stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, has become a major contributor to the crisis, varying based on regional drug preferences. Read more here.
A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist checks confiscated pills containing fentanyl at the DEA Northeast Regional Laboratory in New York in 2019.
September 13, 2023: A bill that will allow teenagers to access opioid addiction treatment without consent from a parent is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. The new legislation permits physicians to enroll youth over the age of 16 in buprenorphine treatment without prior parental consent. AB 816 passed out the California State Senate with 29 votes, and the Assembly with a vote of 64 in support. It now heads to the governor where it will await his signature. Read more here
‘Suboxone is the most effective form of treatment for opioid-use disorder, and it’s critical that we get people enrolled in it as soon as possible,’ said Assemblymember Matt Haney, who introduced the new bill. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
September 7, 2023: PEI (Prevention & Early Intervention) will partner with “Find Your Anchor” to build care packages during the event which will contain mental health resources for those in need. Read More Here.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California

September 5, 2023: The drug Narcan is now available to purchase without a prescription after being approved for over-the-counter earlier this year by the Food and Drug Administration. Read More Here.

Narcan is available to buy without a prescription

RICHMOND: Kaiser Permanente: Stopping Opioid Overdoses, No Questions Asked. 

August 23, 2023: Kaiser Permanente emergency departments in Northern California are dispensing a free overdose-reversing nasal spray called Narcan, along with an in-person primer on how to use it. In 2022, about 72,000 people died nationwide from synthetic opioid overdoses, including fentanyl, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Kaiser Permanente emergency departments in Northern California see the most visits due to opioid-related problems in Sacramento, followed by South Sacramento, Richmond, Roseville, and San Leandro. Read more here.

Kaiser Richmond Medical Center in downtown Richmond, California. Along with Sacramento, South Sacrament, Roseville, and San Leandro, the Richmond emergency department experiences the most visits due to opioid-related problems in Sacramento, followed by South Sacramento, Richmond, Roseville, and San Leandro.

 

CONCORD: Voices of the Epidemic: Walter Langhammer.

August 24, 2023: The nationwide drug epidemic driven by the arrival of fentanyl has inflicted extraordinary pain and suffering. Families have lost loved ones. Parents have lost children. And countless people have simply lost their way. Seeking to better understand the crisis, the Chronicle and Hearst Newspapers have in recent months gathered data for a first-of-its-kind national, county-by-county tracker of fatal drug overdoses, which have killed more than a million people in the United States since 1999. As part of this effort, reporters Mallory Moench, Sarah Ravani and Kevin Fagan, with photographer Stephen Lam, spent time with people who have been personally impacted by the ongoing epidemic and agreed to discuss their experiences and perspectives. Their words have been slightly edited for clarity. To hear more from them, listen to the Chronicle’s “Fifth & Mission” podcast by clicking on the audio player below or finding the show on your favorite podcast platform. Read more here.

PITTSBURG: Pittsburg Man Gets 5 Years for Selling Fentanyl That Killed Former Classmate.

August 24, 2023: An Eastern Contra Costa County man has been sentenced to over five years in federal prison for selling pills laced with fentanyl that caused the overdose death of a former classmate, federal prosecutors said. Northern California U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds’ office announced Monday that 23-year-old Gage Pascoe of Pittsburg received a 68 month sentence, along with five years of supervised release. Earlier this year, Pascoe pleaded guilty to the charge of distributing fentanyl. Read more here.

PLEASANT HILL: Guide Seeks to Help Parents Navigate Substance Abuse & Mental Health Concerns in Teens.

August 14, 2023: Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) has developed a new online guide titled “Substance Use, Mental Health, & Teens: A Guide for Parents & Other Caring Adults”, which focuses on resources to protect and care for teens facing substance abuse and mental health challenges. Created by the agency’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) department, the resource was inspired by April Rovero, Founder/Director of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA), to equip adults with knowledge and resources they need to support young people in their lives to make positive decisions regarding their health. To read more, click here.

                                                             

August 5, 2023: The Bay Area’s drug crisis is increasingly landing on the region’s largest transit system. Suspected overdose deaths on BART property this year have now climbed past the total for all of 2022 as the agency tries to respond to a problem that’s expanding across the system. Read more here
 
So far this year 20 people have died on trains in stations or somewhere else on BART property.

CONCORD: Man Dies of Apparent Overdose on BART Train, Officials Say.

July 10, 2023: A man died aboard a BART train Monday morning of an apparent overdose, a spokesman for the transit operator said. Despite the efforts of paramedics who responded to Concord station and provided life-saving measures, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. To read more, click here.

A northbound train leaving Concord station

CONCORD: Mount Diablo Unified School District Holds First-of-its-Kind Fentanyl Awareness Event.

July 10, 2023: It might be the middle of summer, but on Monday night, dozens of people packed the gym at Ignacio Valley High School in Concord. All of them there to take part in a first-of-its-kind fentanyl awareness program for the Mount Diablo Unified School District. To read more, click here.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District held a first-of-its-kind fentanyl awareness event Monday night for students and parents.          

CONCORD: State Awards $5.7 Million to Fight Opioid Use in LGBTQ+ Communities.

July 10, 2023: As part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $1 billion Master Plan for tackling the fentanyl and opioid crisis, California has awarded $5.7 million for opioid and stimulant use education and outreach in LGBTQ+ communities. Read more here

Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County (Concord, CA)          

WALNUT CREEK: California Attorney General Announces Four Multi-Billion Dollar Nationwide Opioid Settlements. 

June 9, 2023: California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced four multi-billion opioid settlements with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens and manufacturers Allergan and Teva are moving forward. The settlements are together worth up to $17.3 billion and address the companies’ role in the opioid crisis. The Walgreens and CVS deals are the first multistate settlements to hold chain retail pharmacies to answer for their role in the crisis. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in California’s efforts to address an epidemic that has destroyed communities and ripped apart families. Read more here.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks in Walnut Creek, California. Bonta announced that California cities and counties could receive more than $2 billion as part of a national settlement with drug distributors and manufacturers for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic. 

CALIFORNIA: Lawmakers Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Pass “Alexandra’s Law,” Hold Fentanyl Dealers Accountable.

June 6, 2023: State lawmakers, law enforcement officials, local leaders and family members of fentanyl victims announced the introduction of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 12, which would ask voters to implement “Alexandra’s Law” which would require convicted fentanyl dealers receive a warning that continuing to sell fentanyl is extremely dangerous. That warning would empower prosecutors to file homicide charges if the dealer continues to sell fentanyl and causes a death. Read more here.

Assemblyman Juan Alanis speaks during the introduction of ACA 12. A

OAKLEY: Oakley Police Use Narcan to Save Woman’s Life at Big Break Marina. 

May 18, 2023: Oakley police officers and paramedics had to use five doses of Narcan, a lifesaving opioid overdose-revering treatment, to revive a woman who overdosed on fentanyl inside a vehicle Wednesday. Read more here.

Bottles of Narcan (Image courtesy Oakley Police Department)

MARTINEZ: The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Collected 400 Pounds of Unwanted and Unused Medications on DEA Take Back Day.

April 22, 2023: The Office of the Sheriff collected almost 400 pounds of unwanted and unused medications that will be properly disposed
The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Bring your pills for disposal at the following sites:
DROP OFF LOCATIONS
-Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez
-Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond
-Valley Station, 150 Alamo Plaza, #C, Alamo
-Delta Station/Discovery Bay Annex, 1555 Riverlake Rd.,
Discovery Bay
-Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville
-Lafayette Police Department, 3471 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
-Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs, locations, or the Take Back event, visit: https://www.dea.gov/takebackday.

RICHMOND: The City of Richmond Holds Crime Prevention Meeting on the Fentanyl Crisis.

March 23, 2023: A special Richmond, California Crime Prevention Meeting on The Fentanyl Crisis with speakers from the Contra Costa DA’s Office (Diana Becton), the Richmond Police Department, the Richmond Fire Department, WCCUSD and the Contra Costa County Alcohol and Other Drugs Services. Watch the meeting here.

Downtown Richmond

DANVILLE: Town of Danville Issues Proclamation Declaring March as National Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month.

March 21, 2023: Danville Mayor Robert Storer and the Danville Town Council approved a proclamation to observe Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month, part of a statewide effort to draw attention to an epidemic that causes thousands of deaths nationwide every year during the town council’s meeting. Read the town’s proclamation here.

Danville Town Offices building in Danville, California

PLEASANT HILL: City of Pleasant Hill Issues Proclamation Declaring March as National Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month.

March 20, 2023: The Pleasant Hill City Council and Mayor approved a proclamation today to observe Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month, part of a statewide effort to draw attention to an epidemic that causes thousands of deaths nationwide every year. Read the city’s proclamation here.

City of Pleasant Hill’s Proclamation declaring March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. 

March 7, 2023: Doctors and dentists working for Contra Costa County say they are understaffed, overworked and underpaid. Their union has been working without a contract for more than four months. Now, its membership has authorized a strike if state mediation fails. Read more here.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, a full-service hospital that offers a complete array of patient-centered health care services.

February 23, 2023: With an eye to California’s growing fentanyl crisis, members of the state Senate Public Health and Safety committees heard a progress report from numerous authorities on how the state has been handling the issue — and what steps should be taken in the future. Read more here.

“I strongly believe that the fentanyl crisis can’t be solved by going back to the failed War on Drug policies of the past.” Diana Becton, the district attorney of Contra Costa County, shares her thoughts on the need to take a public health approach to the fentanyl crisis.

February 23, 2023: The Physicians’ and Dentists’ Organization of Contra Costa (PDOCC) said that according to county data, 83 out of 285 employed positions are listed as vacant in Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), a 29% vacancy rate. Read more here.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, a full-service hospital that offers a complete array of patient-centered health care services.

February 22, 2023: In recognition of March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month, the Mount Diablo Unified School District issued a proclamation to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse. Read the proclamation here.

The Mount Diablo Unified School District administration building in Concord, California

February 22, 2023: In light of a recent fentanyl-related drug overdose at Acalanes High School on January 13, conversations regarding student drug use have increased. The topics of these conversations have included ways to spot signs of intoxication, questions as to why students engage with drugs, and information on how to perform life-saving measures in the event of an overdose. Read more here

Campolindo High School in Moraga, California

February 21, 2023: An Alamo man accused of possessing more than 100 fentanyl pills and selling them made his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday, according to an announcement from the Department of Justice. Prosecutors allege that Ozymandias Troy Watson, 18, possessed 130 “M30” pills containing fentanyl with intent to distribute them, and that he also provided pills to someone who subsequently died of an overdose. If convicted of intent to distribute fentanyl, Watson is looking at a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Read more here

This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation.

February 9, 2023:  A year and a half after the death of 14-year-old Concord High School student Valentina Langhammer, her family said Thursday they’re finally getting justice. Read more here.

February 9, 2023: State data shows that the opioid epidemic is hitting a handful of Bay Area ZIP codes particularly hard. Some ZIP codes in Contra Costa County saw more drastic one-year increases of opioid-related deaths. For example, the 94507 ZIP code, south of Walnut Creek, had a rate of 6.5 in 2021, after reporting no opioid-related deaths in 2020, while the 94801 ZIP code, in North Richmond, had a rate of 3.5, up from 1.4. Read more here.

The opioid epidemic is hitting some Bay Area ZIP codes harder than others.

February 1, 2023: In the California Legislature, AB 19, introduced by Assembly Member Joe Patterson states that each individual public school operated by a school district, county office of education, or charter school shall maintain at least two doses of naloxone hydrochloride or another opioid antagonist on its campus. This is already the practice of area high schools, and local TK-12 districts are also responding. Read more here

Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California

February 1, 2023: A man was found dead Friday in an apartment complex on Crestfield Drive just before 9:00 a.m. Police believe that the young man may have overdosed on opiates, but the investigation is ongoing. Read more here

A San Ramon police car on Minerva Way.

December 23, 2022: California invests in fighting the opioid crisis and getting resources to people and communities. Read more here

October 7, 2022: An East Bay mom is raising awareness of a lethal narcotic after addiction impacted her son. Read more here

Corey Sylvester and his mother, Jacqui Berlinn.

October 12, 2022: California Attorney General Rob Bonta today provided an update on the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ongoing work to address the fentanyl crisis, including the seizure of over 4 million fentanyl pills and almost 900 pounds of fentanyl powder, and over 200 arrests through the DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation and work with allied task forces throughout California since April 2021. Read more here.

September 19, 2022: The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the national evaluator of health insurance plans, has recognized Contra Costa Health Plan (CCHP) as among the best in California for patient experience and the quality of care it provides. Among health maintenance organizations (HMO) offering Medi-Cal, none rated higher than CCHP on NCQA’s annual report card, which gave the Plan 4 out of 5 stars and exceptionally high marks for patient experience and preventative care. Read more here.

Contra Costa Health provides high-quality, affordable coverage through CCHP, which will mark 50 years of service in 2023, making it the nation’s first federally qualified, state-licensed, county-sponsored HMO.

July 20, 2022: Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies revived a man who was having an overdose at the Martinez Detention Facility Tuesday morning. The man had been arrested by the San Pablo Police Department before being taken to the county jail. Deputies administered two doses of Narcan, which is used to prevent opioid-related overdoses. Read more here

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

July 14, 2022: An Antioch woman who was homeless when she was recruited in a multimillion dollar identity theft scheme involving Bay Area rappers has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison, court records show. Susan Arreola-Martin, 71, was also charged with providing fentanyl to her 21-year-old granddaughter, a Martinez woman, who promptly overdosed from the drug and died. That happened while Arreola-Martin was on pretrial release in the fraud case. Read More Here.

April 5, 2022: Contra Costa County has opened a new module at the Martinez Detention Facility for inmates with mental illnesses. Read more here

A biophilic designed module for inmates with mental illness at the Martinez Detention Facility. (Photo by CCCSO, via BCN)

December 15, 2021: The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $75 million in Measure X money for a list of capital projects for Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. Supervisors approved spending $30 million to expand the center’s office complex by 40,000 square feet, $25 million for a new public health lab, $15 million on a new parking structure with 325 additional spaces, and $5 million to expand the hospital’s interventional radiology suite by 5,000 square feet. Read more here.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, a full-service hospital that offers a complete array of patient-centered health care services.

November 19, 2021: In a forceful demonstration of solidarity with striking Kaiser Permanente engineers and outrage over Kaiser’s chronic underfunding of behavioral health care, National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) members including social workers, therapists, and psychologists fanned out to Kaiser hospitals across Northern California for a one-day strike. The rallies were headlined by mental health clinicians, allies including Mental Health America of California President Heidi Strunk, and elected officials including Assemblymember Alex Lee, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers and councilmembers Natalie Rogers, Eddie Alvarez, and Victoria Fleming, Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, Oakland City Councilmembers Carroll Fife and Dan Kalb, and Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia. Read more here.

NUHW members hold sympathy strike in support of the engineers and march on Kaiser headquarters in Oakland on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Photo: NUHW

October 18, 2021: On Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Read more here.

September 17, 2021: Last night, an alert citizen called RPD after seeing a male driver hitting and holding down a female passenger, in the backseat of a car. Based on the Good Samaritan’s detailed information, Officer K. Shanks tracked down the car, being driven in the city’s Northern District, and conducted an enforcement stop to investigate the alleged assault. Read more here.

CONCORD: Concord Father Reflects on Fourteen-Year-Old Daughter Who Died of Fentanyl Overdose.

September 1, 2021: A Bay Area father is grieving after his 14-year-old died from a drug overdose on fentanyl. On International Overdose Awareness Day, many are pausing to reflect on the millions of lives lost to both illegal street drugs and prescription pills that are misused. Read more here.

Concord High School in Concord, California. 

July 27, 2021: John Muir Health’s Concord and Walnut Creek medical centers earned the designation of Best Regional Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its annual list of America’s Best Hospitals. The Walnut Creek Medical Center is ranked second and the Concord Medical Center third out of 50 hospitals in the San Francisco Metro Area, which includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties. The two medical centers are also ranked among the top 16 in the state out of more than 400 hospitals. Read More Here

July 27, 2021: A Walnut Creek dentist was allegedly trading opiate prescriptions for cocaine. In a recently unsealed federal complaint, federal prosecutors in the Bay Area charged Alireza Moheb with distributing a controlled substance and conspiracy to acquire prescription pills by fraud. The charging records allege Moheb conspired with two Antioch-area drug dealers; both their names have been redacted from public court records. Read More Here

Alireza Moheb has been charged with distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy to acquire painkillers through fraud.

Contra Costa County Man Died of Overdose in Isolation Cell After Hospital Visit, Coroner Says. But No One Can Explain How He Got the Fentanyl.

June 7, 2021: A 30-year-old man died last year of a fentanyl overdose while he was inside an isolation cell at the Martinez Detention Facility, where he’d been for the past 16 hours after a visit from the hospital, a forensic pathologist testified at an inquest hearing last week. In the isolation cell where Ezekiel McCoy died of a fentanyl overdose, jail guards check on inmates every 15 minutes and no other human contact is allowed. Read more here.

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

May 11, 2021: An Antioch woman who was already facing fraud charges involving a Bay Area rapper has been arrested for allegedly giving her granddaughter fentanyl that the young woman fatally overdosed from two days later, court records show. Read More Here

April 23, 2021: On Saturday, April 24, 2021, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Read more here

CONCORD: Concord Police Officer Hailed for Saving Two-Year-Old Exposed to Fentanyl. 

March 31, 2021: Officer Aaron Khamosh is being hailed as a hero after the Concord cop saved a 2-year-old who was exposed to fentanyl and became unresponsive. Khamosh administered doses of Narcan, which can reverse an overdose on opioids. Read more here

Officer Khamosh (photo: Concord Police Department)

PLEASANT HILL: Pleasant Hill Police Officer Administered Narcan to Person Inside Vehicle. 

March 4, 2021: Last night, around 9:40 PM, Officer Kuhn responded to a report of a male subject, possibly overdosing in a car at In-N-Out Burger. Officer Kuhn immediately recognized the symptoms of a possible opiate overdose and administered Narcan to the man, reviving him. The man was transported to the hospital for further treatment. Read more here

ORINDA: Orinda City Council Presents Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Proclamation. 

March 12, 2021: Orinda Mayor Amy Worth read a two-page proclamation declaring March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month at the March 2 City Council meeting. She later presented the document to Sophie Kessler, a senior at Miramonte High School and co-president of its Peer-to- Peer Club. Read more here.  

Mayor Amy Worth presents the proclamation declaring March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month to the Peer to Peer Club co-president, Sophie Kessler, who is a senior at Miramonte High School.

MARTINEZ: Groundbreaking Program Supports Paramedics in Treating Opioid Use Disorder, Saving More Lives. 

February 11, 2021: The Bridge program is helping to meet this need by promoting a successful Emergency Medical Services Buprenorphine Use Pilot (EMSBUP) project in Contra Costa County and looking to expand it throughout the state. This innovative model is led by PHI’s CA Bridge program and helps to bridge the gaps in effectively treating opioid patients in California communities. Read more here.

Contra Costa County became the first county in California to allow emergency medical technicians to offer buprenorphine, a medication that can reduce opioid cravings, to patients showing signs of an opioid overdose or withdrawal while they’re still in the ambulance. 

December 24, 2020: Last Friday, Dec. 18, Dr. Michael deBoisblanc was fired as the Medical Director of Trauma and Regional Services for John Muir Health. One of the partners in his private practice, the Bay Area Surgical Specialists (BASS) Medical Group, Dr. Pete Mazolewski, who also works at John Muir, confirmed the firing and said it was done, “without explanation.” Read more here.

Social media post asking for county residents to contact John Muir Health executives over the firing of Dr. deBoisblanc. Source: anonymous (Information redacted by the Herald)

December 8, 2020: The United States Attorney’s Office charged Gage Pascoe with the distribution of pills containing fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of his customer, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Read more here.

A reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly after a news conference in June 2017 about deaths from fentanyl exposure, at the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

November 5, 2020: A Brentwood woman was charged with murder this week in the death of her 2-year-old son, after the toddler allegedly consumed fentanyl that was in her possession, Contra Costa County prosecutors said Thursday. To read more, click here.

This undated photo released by the Arizona office of the Drug Enforcement Administration shows some of the 1.1 million fentanyl pills. A Brentwood woman was charged with murder this week in the death of her 2-year-old son, after the toddler reportedly consumed fentanyl that was in her possession, Contra Costa County, prosecutors said Thursday.

October 23, 2020: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would like to invite you to take part in a national effort to keep our communities safe. The DEA and the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff hold Take Back Days aimed to provide a safe, convenient, and ecologically responsible method of prescription medication disposal while also focusing on prevention and education.  Read more here.

October 2, 2020: Contra Costa County will spend $250 million to increase staffing and improve health care at its jails after a lawsuit alleged inmates with physical and mental problems were being neglected, including some who were potentially suicidal. Read more here.

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

SAN PABLO: Why Contra Costa County’s Most Latino City Has Its Highest Rate of Coronavirus Cases.

September 8, 2020: Best known as the home of the San Pablo Lytton Casino, San Pablo now has one of the highest rates of coronavirus of any city in the Bay Area — and its economy has been ravaged as well as its health. The city of 30,000, which is 62% Latino and among the poorest in the area, accounts for 8% of the county’s cases, despite making up about 4% of the population, with about 396.6 cases per 10,000 residents — more than three times Contra Costa’s rate overall. Read more here.

September 23, 2020: A 35-year-old man was hospitalized for an infection in his leg days before he was found dead in the bunk of his Contra Costa jail cell from a methamphetamine and fentanyl overdose, a forensic pathologist testified at a coroner’s inquest Wednesday. Read more here.

                                                           

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

September 22, 2020: A California city has reached a $4 million settlement with the family of a Black man who was fatally shot last year as he was having a mental health breakdown. Officials from the city, Walnut Creek, confirmed this week that they had agreed to settle with the family of Miles Hall, 23, who was killed in June 2019 after police officers responded to multiple calls of a disturbance in his neighborhood. Read more here.    
Taun Hall spoke at a rally in Oakland, Calif., in June about her son, who was fatally shot the year before by the police.
September 15, 2020: Best known as the home of the San Pablo Lytton Casino, San Pablo now has one of the highest rates of coronavirus of any city in the Bay Area — and its economy has been ravaged as well as its health. The city of 30,000, which is 62% Latino and among the poorest in the area, accounts for 8% of the county’s cases, despite making up about 4% of the population, with about 396.6 cases per 10,000 residents — more than three times Contra Costa’s rate overall. Read more here.    

July 1, 2020: “The Desert”, a documentary film recently released as part of KQED’s Truly CA series, looks at the ripple effects in a community after a hospital closes. Doctors Medical Center operated for 60 years, serving western Contra Costa County from its location in San Pablo, north of Richmond in the East Bay. When it closed in 2015, after failing to bridge a stubborn $18-20 million annual deficit, it left nearly 250,000 mostly low-income residents more than a half-hour drive away from the closest hospital. The film was produced and directed by Bo Kovitz, who spoke with The California Report Magazine. Interview excerpts have been edited for length and clarity. Read more here
In a still from ‘The Desert,’ locals observe as Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo is torn down following its closure in 2015, leaving the nearest public hospital 15 miles away. (Courtesy Bo Kovitz)
May 8, 2020: The Biletnikoff Foundation raised $120,000 at its annual crab feed in San Ramon, California. The foundation assists young women dealing with addiction and domestic abuse. Read more here.

May 8, 2020: According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the rise of prescription drug abuse among teenagers is reaching alarming levels across our country. It’s an epidemic that has come to the East Bay suburbs as well. Jose Marin, deputy district attorney for drug prosecution in Contra Costa County, says, “Over the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in pharmaceutical drug use among teenagers. Some of the most affluent cities in the area—Danville, San Ramon, Walnut Creek—are overflowing with kids abusing pills.” Read more here.
Ann and Chelsea Le Veille of Danville, California
April 24, 2020: Diablo magazine’s April cover story gives readers the inside story on how a confidential informant and the State of California’s Department of Justice brought down Chris Butler, a former SWAT police officer turned private investigator, and Norm Wielsch, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team (CCCNET). Read more here.                                 

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

February 19, 2020: For years, Contra Costa County has ignored problems at its once-groundbreaking psychiatric unit.  Now the violence and aggression have reached a breaking point. Read more here.                                 
Adults And Children At The Facility Are Often Commingled. Credits: Photo By Pat Mazzera

December 16, 2019: Jose Ricardo Loza and Randy Lee Walker were charged in a criminal complaint with distributing fentanyl and heroin, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Postal Inspector in Charge Rafael E. Nuñez, United States Postal Inspection Service. Loza and Walker are charged with distribution of controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). Loza and Walker were arrested on December 12, 2019.  At the time of Loza’s arrest, law enforcement agents found more than 2,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills hidden in hollowed out compartments of his furniture. Read more here

United States Federal Building in San Francisco, California, seen from the intersection of Mission Street and 7th Street (main building, with part of annex visible on the left)

April 26, 2019: On Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, local police departments and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Read more here

August 19, 2019: As many as 81 people in Contra Costa County died from opioids last year — up 56 percent from 52 in 2017 — and authorities fear many of them had obtained the addictive drugs off the streets. Read more here

August 19, 2019: Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) and County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano issued a health advisory Tuesday regarding the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, and on the same day the county’s Board of Supervisors proclaimed March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. The health advisory is available here. Read more here.

MARTINEZ: East Bay Fire District Knew of EMS Chief’s Drug Use Before Promotion and Arrest.

March 27, 2019: A high-ranking Contra Costa County Fire Protection District official who is fighting felony embezzlement and drug possession charges was given a job with access to narcotics even though his bosses knew he previously had been in drug-related trouble. Years before his January arrest on suspicion of possessing fentanyl, an opiate-based painkiller, and midazolam, a sleeping aid, Richard Stephenson was demoted and given a warning for substance abuse. Yet in 2017, he was promoted to chief of the Emergency Medical Services division. Read More Here.

March 20, 2019: Contra Costa Health Services issued a health advisory Tuesday regarding opioid overdoses. Nationally, prescription narcotics result in more deadly overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. And according to health officials, the problem is also out of control locally. Read more here

MARTINEZ: East Bay Inmate Died of Heart Attack, Had Traces of Meth In System.

January 30, 2019: A man from San Pablo who died in a single-person cell in the county jail’s mental health module suffered a fatal heart attack, a forensic pathologist testified at an inquest hearing Wednesday. But there was an oddity in the death of 46-year-old David Hubbard: He had traces of methamphetamine and opiates in his urine, but not his bloodstream, suggesting relatively recent use of illicit substances. Read More Here

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

January 15, 2019: Contra Costa County physicians are dispensing prescriptions for Suboxone — which studies show reduces fatal overdoses — to homeless drug users. Read more here

Dr. Joseph Mega Heads The County’s Street Team. Credits: Photo By Holly McDede

January 11, 2019: Safely getting rid of expired or leftover medication has gotten easier in Contra Costa County, thanks to the recent rollout of an ordinance that requires pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to collect them. Throughout the county, 27 CVS Pharmacy locations and 10 Kaiser health facilities are providing drop-off boxes where people can dispose their medications in original containers or in sealed bags. Those drugs and packaging are then destroyed, according to the county health department. Read more here

Pharmaceutical disposal bin in the lobby of the Moraga Police Department in Moraga, California
Supervisor Diane Burgis and others next to a drop box at a CVS in Brentwood. (Photo credit: Contra Costa Health Services)

January 11, 2019: Safely getting rid of expired or leftover medication has gotten easier in Contra Costa County, thanks to the recent rollout of an ordinance that requires pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to collect them. Throughout the county, 27 CVS Pharmacy locations and 10 Kaiser health facilities are providing drop-off boxes where people can dispose their medications in original containers or in sealed bags. Those drugs and packaging are then destroyed, according to the county health department. Read more here

MARTINEZ: Rx Drop Boxes Let Residents Safely Dispose of Unwanted Medicine at CVS Pharmacy Locations.

January 10, 2019: Contra Costa residents with unwanted prescription medicines can safely dispose of them at 27 CVS Pharmacy locations in the county thanks to new, secure drop boxes added through the county’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance. The ordinance, passed in 2016, requires pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to provide collection services for unused drugs, to protect the environment and prevent accidental poisonings or intentional misuse of drugs such as prescription opioids. Read more here

In West Contra Costa County, one of the drop boxes is located at the CVS at 2151 Meeker Ave. in Richmond, as well as the Pinole store at 1401 Tara Hills Drive and the El Cerrito store at 10650 San Pablo Ave. The Kaiser Richmond Hospital pharmacy at 901 Nevin Ave. also has one, along with the Kaiser facility at 1301 Pinole Valley Road in Pinole.

January 8, 2019: The Contra Costa County Chief of Emergency Medical Services was arrested Sunday on charges of possessing controlled substances, authorities said Tuesday. EMS Chief Richard Stephenson has been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested by Martinez police for the alleged violations of California Health and Safety Codes. Read More Here.

Richard P. Stephenson

December 17, 2018: A Walnut Creek woman who lived in a quiet neighborhood of multi-million properties took part in a fentanyl drug ring, according to local and federal investigators. The woman, a former synchronized swimmer, and three men have been indicted by a federal grand jury after an investigation that included the San Ramon Police Department, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, the Walnut Creek Police Department, the San Francisco Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Read More Here.

WASHINGTON, DC: Fentanyl: The Real Deal.

September 6, 2018: A new video on first responders and fentanyl is available. The video, Fentanyl: The Real Deal, highlights protective actions first responders should take to perform daily activities safely when the presence of fentanyl is suspected, exposure occurs, and Individuals exhibit signs of opioid intoxication. A Federal Interagency Working Group coordinated by the National Security Council developed Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders and the companion fentanyl training video. Learn more and access the safety recommendations and watch the video through https://www.bja.gov/Events/fentanyl-the-real-deal.html.

September 5, 2018: Moraga Chief of Police Jon King announced at the August 22 town council meeting that his officers have been approved by the emergency medical services director of Contra Costa Health Services to carry and administer Naloxone, medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Read more here.                                              

Officer Fabiola Hernandez displays the lifesaving kit used by the Moraga Police Department

October 26, 2018: On Saturday, October 27, 2018, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Read more here.                 

July 27, 2018: With a fresh approach to addiction treatment–and a Lafayette clinic designed to battle opioid dependence–two health pioneers are disrupting the rehab industry. Read more here.

Workit Health cofounders Robin McIntosh (left) and Lisa McLaughlin.

June 22, 2018: The county’s civil grand jury is calling for more addiction treatment programs and trained clinicians following a report on how the national opioid crisis is affecting Contra Costa County. What the jurors found was that there were not enough resources in the county to treat people addicted to opioids, there are far more opioids prescribed county-wide than drugs used in treatment and that the opioid epidemic will continue in this county for the next decade. Read More Here. You can also read the Urban Institute’s report by clicking here

This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Prescription painkillers should not be a first-choice for treating common ailments like back pain and arthritis, according to new federal guidelines designed to reshape how doctors prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. Amid an epidemic of addiction and abuse tied to these powerful opioids drugs, the CDC is urging general doctors to try physical therapy, exercise and over-the-counter pain medications before turning to painkillers for chronic pain. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

June 14, 2018: Two Contra Costa County Supervisors disagree with a key finding in a newly released Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report titled “The Opioid Crisis: Dying for Treatment” that reported in 2015-2016 over 100 county residents died from opioid overdoses. District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said the actual number of deaths linked to opioid overdoses in 2015-2016 was lower.   The two supervisors said there were 52 overdose deaths tied to opioids based on the information the supervisors received at a health conference that they attended last week. Read More Here.

May 22, 2018: A fed up BART worker wants everyone to see the drug use at the Concord station where she works. Concord BART station agent Barbara De Lap was told there were people using drugs in the garage elevator. Read more here.                                              

A person is injecting heroin into arm at Concord BART station.

May 10, 2018: Contra Costa County is one of 30 California counties that have filed litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors for creating an opioid epidemic in this state. These 30 counties represent approximately 10.5 million residents. All 30 counties are filing suit in federal court and expect their cases to be transferred to the Multi-District Litigation in Ohio, where more than 500 public entities have filed similar suits. Read More Here.

May 2, 2018: At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, it was announced that Contra Costa County plans to join a consortium of more than 25 California counties, as well as hundreds of other municipalities throughout the United States, to initiate litigation against the drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic that has destroyed so many lives across the country and in Contra Costa County. Read More Here.

MARTINEZ: Contra Costa Jail Inmate Died of Heroin Overdose.

March 2, 2018: A Vallejo man who died after being found unresponsive in his jail cell had overdosed on heroin, according to county officials. James Darryl Cooper, 45, died Jan. 24, six days after he’d been booked at the Martinez Detention Facility on a range of charges. After receiving toxicology reports, the medical examiner listed “acute heroin toxicity” as Cooper’s probable cause of death, according to the county coroner’s office. Read More Here.

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

November 27, 2017: Contra Costa County has opted into a pilot program for treating Medi-Cal enrollees with substance use disorders. Experts are optimistic that the program will help more people suffering from substance use disorders get treatment quickly. Read More Here.

Data Source: Contra Costa Health Alcohol and Other Drug Services

November 10, 2017: Contra Costa County law enforcement agencies are arming police officers with naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of a heroin, fentanyl or prescription opioid overdose. Last year, 1,925 Californians died from an opioid overdose, including more than 300 people in the Bay Area, according to data collected by the California Department of Public Health and reported on the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard. There were 51 fatal overdoses in Contra Costa County, and 48 in Alameda County in 2016. The Pleasant Hill Police Department has 10 naloxone kits and about 40 patrol officers and supervisors have been trained, said Chief John Moore. Read More Here.

Contra Costa Sheriff’s Lt. David Hall places a kit containing the drug naloxone into the trunk of a patrol car. About 130 members of the sheriff’s office have been trained to administer naloxone. (Courtesy of Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office)

November 10, 2017: While the exact number of students abusing illegal substances may be unknown, one thing is clear: the culture of illegal drug use is widespread at the school, as is the acceptance among students. The drug problem has existed for a long time in Lamorinda. In October 1998, Acalanes High School hosted a community forum to discuss the drug problem in response to a survey of students in Lamorinda and Walnut Creek. Among the 12th graders surveyed, 83 percent had tried at least one drug. Read more here.

Miramonte High School in Orinda, California

November 1, 2017: At a drug and alcohol abuse forum held Oct. 19 at the Lafayette Library, six members of the Orinda Teen Advisory Council shared that marijuana is being used openly on the Miramonte High School campus, in the bathrooms, in the parking lot early in the morning, even at the back of classrooms. The students described Miramonte students smoking e-cigarettes or juuls in their cars before school or in the bathrooms during school hours. One student said it was even possible to conceal a device in a girl’s blouse to enable her to vape in the back of the classroom. Read more here.

Miramonte High School in Orinda, California

August 23, 2017: The Lafayette City Council unanimously authorized its police officers to administer naloxone, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency, to patients they encounter who show signs of an opioid overdose. The Lafayette police department becomes the first in Contra Costa County to employ trained officers to administer the drug in the field or at the police station. Read more here.                                              

The Lafayette Police Department in Lafayette, California

August 23, 2017: Contra Costa Board of Supervisor member Candace Anderson writes that “the unfortunate truth is that when mentally ill individuals commit crimes, they sometimes need to be incarcerated for either their protection or society’s, and we do not currently have the appropriate facilities to treat them and provide the services needed to help them get well and successfully reenter society.” Read more here.

Front sign of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California

March 24, 2017: The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation on Tuesday to observe Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month, part of a statewide effort to draw attention to an epidemic that causes thousands of deaths nationwide every year. Also Tuesday, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) issued a health advisory regarding prescription opioid misuse. CCHS works closely with local medical providers and community partners to combat the prevalence and misuse of opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone (Norco), oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine and fentanyl. Read more here

December 23, 2016: Dr. Fred Von Stieff, the top “addictionologist” at John Muir Behavioral Health Center in Concord, has guided more than 30,000 detox cases in his career. He’s spent countless hours studying the brain’s reaction to drugs and alcohol. His 2012 book, Brain in Balance: Understanding the Genetics and Neurochemistry Behind Addiction and Sobriety, details Von Stieff’s research on how the brain reacts if you drink a glass of wine, smoke a joint, or swallow a Xanax or Vicodin tablet—and how your genetics can predispose you to addiction. In his interview with Diablo, he talks about the opiate crisis, why addiction is so hard to beat, and when people should seek help. Read more here

John Muir Behavioral Health Center in Concord, California

December 20, 2016: Drug makers will be required to establish drop-off centers to accept unwanted or expired medications, under an ordinance passed Tuesday by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. The bill requires drug makers to pay the full cost of establishing and operating a network of centers to take unwanted or unused pharmaceuticals. Read more here

December 1, 2016: On Wednesday, November 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 392-26. The almost 1,000-page bill is designed for medical innovation, additional funding for cancer research, and to combat the nation’s growing opioid and heroin epidemic. But opponents say what the bill includes continues and advances corruption. Plus, they don’t like the fact it’s being considered and voted on by a lame-duck Congress, some of whose members weren’t re-elected in November and will be leaving, soon. Read more here

Congressman DeSaulnier (D, CA-11), who represents most of Contra Costa County and voted for the bill, issued the following statement lauding its passage.

November 12, 2016: Fentanyl: the powerful painkiller that helps cancer patients cope with excruciating pain is now killing young and old alike. The musician Prince died from a fentanyl overdose, according to autopsy records. This drug is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Read more here

Walnut Creek, California

DANVILLE: Bay Area Family Puts Face on Suburban Opioid Addiction. 

November 11, 2016: With Californians now leading the nation in opioid-related deaths, a Bay Area mother and son are courageously putting a face on this terrible addiction. To get the word out, they opened their home and hearts in hopes others can heed their warnings. Read more here

An aerial view of neighborhoods in the affluent San Ramon Valley

August 29, 2016: On Tuesday, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Ted Lieu (CA-33) called on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to initiate an immediate investigation into the egregious overprescribing of opioid prescription painkillers and the inaction of Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies that may be aware of inappropriate opioid distribution by bad actors. Read more here.

Congressman DeSaulnier (D, CA-11), who represents most of Contra Costa County, stated that an immediate investigation was necessary “to fully understand the implications and consequences of pharmaceutical companies that do not fulfill their legal & ethical requirements to restrict the sale of opioids in circumstances that raise suspicion regarding inappropriate prescribing practices.”

ANTIOCH: New Antioch Health Center is Unveiled.

August 15, 2016: It has taken quite a while to make its debut, but the new Antioch Health Center finally opened its doors last week with a much larger facility, expanded programs and a few amendments that will pave the way for better health care for the increasing numbers of those living in poverty in East Contra Costa County. Read more here.

Local dignitaries rejoice after participating in the cutting of the ribbon of the new Antioch Health Center on Country Hills Drive on Feb. 17. Holding the scissors, center, is Congressman Jerry McNerney.

RICHMOND: East Bay Doctor Under Fire for Large Prescriptions of Addictive Painkillers. 

August 13, 2016: In his career, Dr. Edward Manougian has ordered so many OxyContin pills for low-income patients that he ranked a few years ago as one of the state’s most prolific prescribers. He prescribed patients a cocktail of sedative, antianxiety and narcotic pain pills, including Vicodin, Norco, methadoneSoma and Valium. Now, Manougian’s practice has drawn the attention of federal investigators. The FBI, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Drug Enforcement Administration have subpoenaed Manougian’s medical records. Read More Here

Dr. Edward Manougian, at his Richmond office, says he offers hope to the 240 struggling men and women under his care. Manougian, who was one of the state’s most prolific OxyContin prescribers, is fighting the state medical board’s effort to take his license to practice medicine. (Michael Short/California Watch)

April 28, 2016: For weeks, counterfeit prescription pills have been turning up in the Sacramento area and leading to deadly overdoses. A Bay Area Health Department confirms Wednesday those fake painkillers are now in the Bay Area. Contra Costa Health Services says, since March, four people have overdosed on what appears to be counterfeit prescription medications laced with fentanyl. Read more here.                                              

The George & Cynthia Miller Wellness Center in Martinez, California

April 19, 2016: On Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal at the following sites. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Read more here.                                              

February 4, 2016: Today, in an effort to help educate students and young adults about the dangers of opioid addiction, the FBI and DEA unveiled a documentary called Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., before an audience of educational leaders from the region. The 45-minute film, whose title refers to the never-ending pursuit of the original or ultimate high, features stark first-person accounts told by individuals who have abused opioids or whose children have abused opioids, with tragic consequences. Read More Here.

December 4, 2015: Sixteen-year-old Steven Unangst lay choking and thrashing in his bed the night before he died in foster care in Contra Costa County, a newly filed lawsuit alleges, but his foster parent failed to seek medical attention for the teen later found to have ingested a lethal mix of prescription pills. In the Superior Court suit, the teen’s family also alleges that the county and a private social service agency should have sought treatment for the distraught boy when a social worker delivered him hours earlier to a visit with relatives in a condition they described as excessively sedated. Read more here

During an interview with this newspaper, Steven Unangst, 39, sits by a skateboard he gave his 16-year-old son for Christmas the afternoon before he died suddenly in an Antioch foster home on Dec. 19. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

July 1, 2015: John Muir Health agreed to pay the government $550,000 after a whistle-blower claimed the company submitted false claims for Medicare reimbursement, federal officials said. The whistle-blower said that physicians, contracted with John Muir Health in Walnut Creek to do radiation therapy, failed to supervise such treatment between January 2009 and December 2013, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Supervising the treatment is a requirement of receiving payment through Medicare. Read more here

John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California

ANTIOCH: Antioch Foster Teen Overdosed on Combination of Painkillers, Anti-depressants, Alcohol.

April 16, 2015: A deadly combination of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs, painkillers and alcohol were responsible for the death of a teen living in an Antioch foster home late last year, a county coroner has found, intensifying questions about why no one took Steven Unangst to the doctor when he showed clear signs of being dangerously sedated. Read more here

The historic Rivertown District in downtown Antioch, California

ANTIOCH: Contra Costa County Foster Youth’s Mysterious Death Under Investigation.

January 12, 2015: A 16-year-old foster youth who was taking psychotropic medications was found dead in his bed late last month — and now police and state social services officials are investigating why he didn’t receive medical care after he showed signs of being heavily impaired. Results of an autopsy and toxicology tests are weeks away, so investigators say it’s still far from clear why the otherwise healthy teen died or what, if any, substances contributed. But Steven Unangst’s alarming stupor and mysterious death underscore ongoing concerns about the care and supervision of California foster children who are prescribed potentially dangerous psychiatric medications — a subject of this newspaper’s yearlong investigation “Drugging Our Kids.” Read more here

During an interview with this newspaper, Steven Unangst, 39, sits by a skateboard he gave his 16-year-old son for Christmas the afternoon before he died suddenly in an Antioch foster home on Dec. 19. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

April 8, 2014: The legal problems facing a veteran Concord police officer could have a ripple effect on other criminal cases. Matthew Switzer, a former K-9 officer, is accused of stealing prescription drugs from senior citizens. Read more here.

April 7, 2014: A Concord police officer accused of stealing prescription drugs from seniors resigned from the department on Friday. Officer Matthew Switzer is set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon on two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of second-degree burglary, one count of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs and one count of elder abuse. Read more here.

Officer Matthew Switzer of the Concord Police Department