A turnaround in our opioid crisis? Fewer SLO County fatal overdoses recorded in 2017

Preliminary data show there could be good news in the fight against opioid overdoses; 2017 marked the first decline in San Luis Obispo County opioid deaths since 2012.

Beginning in 2012, with 18 overdose deaths in SLO County, each year since saw an increase in fatalities, with 37 recorded deaths in 2016. However, preliminary data from the state and the county Sheriff’s Office shows that 22 people died in 2017.

In August of 2017, the county board of supervisors approved a $27,500 state grant to provide 686 doses of Narcan nasal spray to be distributed by the SLO Bangers Syringe Exchange and Overdose Prevention Program. When applied, Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

In addition, the drug — generic name naloxone — is widely available without a prescription at pharmacies throughout San Luis Obispo County.

One of those whose life was saved by Narcan was Ryan Hillmer. Hillmer told his story to The Tribune in September 2017. After overdosing on heroin at Pirate’s Cove, Hillmer was rushed to a nearby emergency room and given naloxone. He later made the decision to get sober and begin the work of putting his life back together.

“I want everyone to know they can get naloxone and keep it with them just in case. It can give someone a second chance like I had,” Hillmer told The Tribune.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler


Naloxone is available with a prescription, which can be obtained at the County of San Luis Obispo Drug and Alcohol Services, at any CVS or Rite Aid pharmacy in SLO County.

It can also be obtained without a prescription at the following locations:

  • CVS SLO, 11990 Los Osos Valley Road
  • CVS Arroyo Grande, 1435 E. Grand Ave.
  • CVS Nipomo, 610 W. Tefft St.
  • CVS Paso Robles, 187 Niblick Road.
  • Cayucos Pharmacy, 72 S. Ocean Ave.
  • En Soleil Pharmacy in Atascadero, 5735 El Camino Real.
  • SLO Bangers Syringe Exchange, 2191 Johnson Ave.

Naloxone is free with Medi-Cal and covered fully or in part by most health insurance plans. It is available for free at SLO Bangers.

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