BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Drug overdoses killed more than 93,000 Americans in 2020 alone and while officials said the pandemic did not help opioids have continued to be a problem for years across the nation and in the state of California.
That’s why the Drug Enforcement Agency is hosting its 20th annual national Takeback Day in Kern County.
KCSO has already seen more deaths from Fentanyl at the beginning of this month alone than in all of 2020.
The drug problem is not unique to Kern County. That’s why officials are hosting the second national drug takeback day this year on Saturday.
“Overdose deaths soared last year; across the nation we saw a 30% increase in drug overdose deaths compared to 2019,” said Rob Bonta, California Attorney General.
Just one pill, sniff, or whiff and you never know when a drug can kill you. The drug problem is also increasing in Kern County especially when it comes to fentanyl.
“The coroner’s office has already seen nearly 140 fentanyl-related deaths at the beginning of this month which surpasses the total number that we saw in 2020 and that’s something that’s very scary,” said Danielle Kernkamp Public Information Officer, KCSO.
Kernkamp said one of the reasons deaths are so common is because people don’t realize that fentanyl can be in other drugs.
“The problem oftentimes is that people don’t know that fentanyl is in these narcotics that they’re looking for on the streets which is why we’ve seen so many overdoses lately. It’s being mixed into every drug out there; you name it to increase the potency of it and users don’t know and it’s leading to fatal overdoses,” said Kernkamp.
According to the county health rankings from 2017 to 2019 Kern County had 719 drug overdose deaths of those 50 were White Americans 36 were Black or African Americans 12 were a part of the Hispanic or Latino community and 9 were Asian Americans.
Officials said oftentimes prescription drugs are stolen or can fall into the wrong hands and lacing them with illegal drugs can be deadly.
That’s why the DEA is hosting their second national prescription drug take-back day which is where anyone can clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in prescription drugs anonymously with no questions asked.
“Disposing of unused prescriptions properly can fight and even prevent opioid addiction. Expired unused and leftover medication can be deadly if they fall into the wrong hands,” said Bonta.
While KCSO is not having its own takeback day this weekend they still encourage the community to participate.
“It’s just a really effective way to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths …so we encourage the community to participate this weekend as it’s a safe and responsible way to get fewer drugs on the streets,” said Kerncamp.
KCSO’s takeback day is typically in the spring but there are three collection sites locally one with BPD, the Bear Valley Police Department, and the Tehachapi Police Department. To find the sites you can enter the area your searching for here.