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South Bay leaders address the opioid epidemic

The fentanyl crisis is wreaking havoc on communities around the country.

On Wednesday, the question of solutions was at the heart of a meeting involving leaders from the South Bay to Washington D.C.

As the fentanyl and opioid crisis worsens, leaders in the South Bay are focused squarely on answers and what to do moving forward.

Bay Area Congressman Jimmy Panetta hosted a roundtable with city and county leaders from Santa Clara County, alongside public health and addiction experts.

Last year, 213 people died from opioids in Santa Clara County.

Most of those deaths were from fentanyl. Whether it’s addicts or teens thinking they’re taking another drug.

Santa Clara County undersheriff Kenneth Binder said that they treat overdoses differently now and have on-call teams that respond.

“When there is a death, to come to the scene right away and start collecting evidence that’s critical to start holding these drug dealers accountable,” he said.

Binder added many young people acquire the drugs on social media. He wants more legislative pressure on those companies to stop it.

“They know what your spending habits are and what stores you go to. Don’t tell me they don’t know when these drug deals are happening on their platforms,” Binder said.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan believes when other interventions have failed, judges should be able to mandate someone get in-patient treatment, which goes along with the new care court model the state is using. But he said a large secure drug treatment facility also needs be built.

“What is hopefully a very narrow set of very severe cases, compelling people to at least have enough time to detox,” he said.

Public health says to continue the fight, it needs flexibility on funding.

“There’s still a federal restriction that bans us from using federal funding for harm reduction efforts like syringe access, safer alternatives to injection, fentanyl test strips,” said Santa Clara County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman.

On Wednesday, it was a chance to compare notes and discuss what changes can be made from the federal level on down. All in the effort of curbing a national epidemic.

“You see the fights back in Washington D.C. When it comes to certain segments wanting just treatment, other segments just wanting enforcement. I think today is a good example that there’s no silver bullet. It really takes an all hands-on deck approach,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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