San Francisco Mayor Plan to Provide Direct Treatment to Drug Users

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell on Thursday laid out a plan designed to bring the treatment for drug addiction directly to the streets.

The $6 million investment plan will create "a dedicated drug addiction street team" and add 10 new clinicians to the Department of Public Health Street Medicine Team who will provide opioid treatment medicine to people on the streets, Farrell announced.

The special medical team would deliver the drug buprenorphine, which officials say works faster than methadone and it immediately stops heroin cravings.

“The opioid crisis plaguing our country is alive and visible on the streets of San Francisco,” said Farrell. "The status quo is simply unacceptable. I am creating this program to directly address drug addiction on our streets—to meet these individuals where they are and get them the help they need, and to ensure that our streets remain safe for all our residents.”

The San Francisco Department of Public Health conducted tests of the drug at tent camps in the city two years ago, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. Almost 60 percent of the roughly 200 people who used the drug are still working to stay clean. The significance of that stat is that more than 80 percent of heroin users tend to relapse after starting a treatment program.

The funds for the program will come from the mayor's current budget proposal.

The city estimated that there are 11,000 heroin addicts using needles in San Francisco, Farell said in a statement. More than 12,500 needles are picked up at homeless locations and encampments across the city every month.

San Francisco also could soon be the first city in the nation to open what are known as supervised injection sites, where addicts can shoot up indoors under the care of trained medical staff.

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