Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference regarding a major drug bust, at the office of the New York Attorney General, September 23, 2016 in New York City.

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Fentanyl Becomes Deadliest Opioid In San Francisco

Margie Shafer
June 24, 2019 - 12:57 pm

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of opioid overdoses in San Francisco, surpassing prescription pills and heroin, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Last year, 57 people died from fentanyl compared to six such overdoses in 2010, the Chronicle reported. 

Fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, said Anna Lemke, Stanford University's medical director of addiction, who added that use of the synthetic opioid is evolving. 

At one time, fentanyl was added to heroin, illicit Xanax or mixed with other drugs. Now, Lemke said, it's more common to see fentanyl sold on its own. 

"One of the really troubling trends that we're seeing right now in the city of San Francisco is that people with the disease of addiction are actually seeking out fentanyl because for much less of the drug they get a more potent high," said Lemke. 

Many users prefer to smoke fentanyl to avoid using needles, she said.