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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

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.

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

 

 

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: 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

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 Father Reflects on 14-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 13, 2021: Since 1999, more than 600,000 people in the United States and Canada have died of an opioid overdose. The pandemic has pushed the crisis to disturbing new heights.

The focus on who misuses drugs can be misunderstood and in fact, the rising tide of addiction and overdose deaths can be found everywhere.  KPIX 5 has spoken to grieving families from Silicon Valley to the wine country, Marin to Hillsborough, and the Tri-Valley.  No one is spared. Go to story.

May 13, 2021: According to a new CDC report, the U.S. has set a record for overdose deaths during the COVID pandemic. Nationally, there has been a 30% increase, while the state of California experienced a 45% increase. The tragedy of the situation is not just seen on city streets but also in suburbs, like in Contra Costa County. April Rovero from the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA) talks about how the pandemic has impacted youths and the larger Contra Costa community and the stigma that prevents people suffering from substance use disorder from seeking help. Go to story.

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 Police Officer Hailed for Saving 2-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 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 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.

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. To read more, click 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. 

February 11, 2021: BART Police’s Transit Ambassadors mark their first anniversary on the job today. They are public servants, ministering to the needs of passengers on BART train – offering free face masks, giving safety tips, helping with directions, connecting those in crisis with services. Read more here.

Ambassador Sequoia Taylor talks with a customer on a train.

Residents Challenge John Muir CEO and Executive VP Over Firing of Trauma Director for Letter Questioning County Health Orders.

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. To read more, click here.

 

                                                           

The Martinez Detention Facility in Martinez, California

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.    

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

October 19, 2019: “Sesame Street” is tackling yet another difficult topic: addiction. In several new videos, Karli, a 6-and-a-half-year-old green Muppet with yellow hair, tells Elmo and other friends that her mother has a “problem” and is in recovery. Karli, who was introduced to viewers in May as part of a foster care initiative, was placed in foster care, it turned out, while her mother was in treatment. Read more here

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.

May 29, 2019: BART Police officers have been trained in how to administer the medication, known as Narcan or generically as naloxone. A policy has been put in place for when and how the opioid antidote is to be used to revive someone who has overdosed.  By the end of May it’s expected all BPD officers will carry Narcan. 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

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 10, 2019: Twenty-seven CVS Pharmacy locations in Contra Costa County now have drop boxes where residents can safely dispose of unwanted prescription medicines. In addition, 10 Kaiser facilities in the county also have the new drop boxes. 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.

Supervisor Diane Burgis and others next to a drop box at a CVS in Brentwood. (Photo credit: Contra Costa Health Services)

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

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

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.

December 2, 2018: In teenagers and young adults, receiving opioids from dental providers is linked with elevated risk for continued opioid use and abuse, a Stanford study has found. Read More Here.

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.

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 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 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

This undated photo provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows fake Percocet pills that are actually fentanyl that were seized and submitted to bureau crime labs. (Tommy Farmer/Tennessee Bureau of Investigation/AP)

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

Sign iRead more here

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.

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.                                              

March 21, 2014: Staffers at Lafayette’s New Leaf Treatment Center want to make sure the overdose reversal kits are accessible to everyone. That’s why the center, which treats clients with alcohol and drug addictions from Lamorinda, Contra Costa County and the greater Bay Area and beyond, is making them available through their foundation. Read more here.                                              

LAFAYETTE: Drinking and Drug Use Remains Frequent in Acalanes District. 

June 20, 2008: The Acalanes Union High School District, known for its high-test scores, beats state averages in two other areas as well: drinking and drug use. The proportion of students in the district who smoke marijuana is slowly rising, and students use marijuana and alcohol at rates higher than the state average, according to a state survey of ninth- and 11th-grade students. Read more here.

A group photo of students from Acalanes High School, Campolindo High School, Las Lomas High School, and Miramonte High School.

PLEASANT HILL: Novelist Danielle Steel’s Son Dies of Drug Overdose At A Home He Shared With Friends in Pleasant Hill. 

September 22, 1997: The son of novelist Danielle Steel died of an accidental drug overdose, a deputy coroner said Sunday. Nicholas John Steel Traina, who headed a punk band, was found dead Saturday morning at a home he shared with several other people in Pleasant Hill, northeast of San Francisco. Read more here.

Nick Traina of Link 80

August 11, 1990: A lethal mixture of morphine and cocaine commonly known as a “speedball” killed Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland, a coroner reported Friday. The cause of death was “acute cocaine and narcotic intoxication,” said the report released by Richard Rainey, Contra Costa County coroner. Mydland, 37, was found dead in his home in the east San Francisco suburb of Lafayette on July 26. Read more here.

Brent Mydland in 1987. Mydland, 37, was found dead in his home in Lafayette, California, on July 26.
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