SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Project Opioid, organized by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, is joining in the fight against opioid overdoses on the Central Coast.
"In 2020, we had 113 overdose deaths in the county, 37 of which were from Fentanyl. In 2021, we had 133 overdose deaths, 78 of which were from Fentanyl. In 2022, we had 168 deaths, 113 of which were from Fentanyl," said Sheriff Bill Brown with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
That's a 200% increase in the number of people dying as a result of Fentanyl overdoses or poisonings.
Project Opioid is an initiative to bring community leaders together to fight against opioid overdoses including help from local government, law enforcement, faith-based communities, and mental health treatment centers.
"We're having a huge problem. We need to get on it," said Edwin Weaver with Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley.
Weaver raised three children in Santa Maria and works with 'Fighting Back' to combat the negative affect of drugs, alcohol, and violence on the Central Coast.
“You may get invited to a party and your friend says, ‘Oh I’ve got this pill that my doctor gave me or a friend gave me. It’ll help you feel relaxed,’” said Weaver.
Turns out these "party favors" can be deadly.
“Even though it looks like a prescription medication, looks just like it, it’s laced with Fentanyl and can kill you and that’s what’s happening," said Weaver.
“We’ve really been analyzing the problem of drug addiction and opioids in particular in our community, and trying to come up with a with a multi-pronged solution to it," said Sheriff Bill Brown.
One of those solutions? Making Narcan available for free throughout Santa Barbra County.
“Narcan is a is a miraculous drug that we really need to get distributed as widely as possible in our community," said Brown.
“Our schools have them now which is great. But we need every community member to have them have Narcan as a way to keep people alive," said Weaver.
Thanks to Project Opioid, you can now get Narcan for free at a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office near you.
“I strongly encourage anyone who has a drug problem, has a relative or a friend with a drug problem, particularly if it's a fentanyl or an opioid problem to get Narcan," said Brown.
There are substations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Isla Vista, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Solvang, and more.
"It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it," said Brown.