Handling Addiction in San Francisco

What is your city doing to combat drug addiction and mental illness? In our country currently, it’s fairly hard to find free of charge healthcare that is efficient, truly helpful, and not full of long waiting lines. Living in Chicago, I have to travel and wait a considerable time to even get to see my doctor for a health issue. Add in dealing with drug addiction symptoms and I probably won’t want to go through the hours and hundreds of dollars needed to get the medication I need. Drug addiction in San Francisco is not different of a situation as the homeless community is suffering from hundreds of drug related crimes and overdoses every year.

Let’s walk through what they plan to do to combat the number people suffering from drug addiction and mental illness and how other cities in our country can do the same.

Addiction and mental illness incidents are growing quickly around the country.

Following Dual Diagnosis Treatment 

The city of San Francisco announced last May that its medical providers will begin to offer withdrawal symptom medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone prescriptions in its parks. This has been a huge change since it will be served where people with opioid disorders and other drug addictions tend to congregate. Once people arrive to the centers, they will be able to talk to the manager, pick up their needed medications which block their cravings, nad gain counseling if needed. There is special counseling being provided specifically for single mothers and pregnant women as well who are battling drug addiction. In order to fund this massive plan into this year, the city is continuing to engage with the homeless and pull out money from its general funds. As of last year, the major committed nearly $3 million of the city’s general funds to support the drug addiction plan. While it sounds like a lot of money, considering the high cost of healthcare in the country already the number is fairly reasonable for the amount of homeless people it can help.

This plan follows the idea of providing dual diagnosis treatment. If a person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder and an addiction, they qualify as a dual diagnosis patient. These patients face a very high risk of relapse with two illnesses and need active counseling along with medications to get back to complete health. Working with a counselor who can lend an ear to withdrawal symptom issues, issues at home, and financial pressures related to a drug addiction will serve the program’s participants well. In fact, many traditional drug rehab facilities may not be completely equipped to deal with their mental and physical problems. They may also charge a high price tag for their staffing fees, operation fees, and taxes as well. Treatment typically will take a few months to even a year depending on the situation, so cutting down on costs for the patient is critical.

San Francisco Tent Cities

As addiction in San Francisco has been getting worse in the past decade, these centers will take the form of “tent cities” across several densely populated areas of the city. Doses of craving medications will be provided in bulk orders so the program’s patients don’t need to keep returning throughout the month. As for the future, Mayor Farrell plans to hire 10 new employees to work throughout the medication team and offer even more people buprenorphine when possible. He wants to make sure they are face to face with these people in their neighborhood so the impact is more direct. Since its beginning last year, the new and innovative program combating addiction San Francisco has required lots of labor to manage. Yet, it has already successfully treated nearly 100 people who reported opioid addiction symptoms.

Of those people treated, at least 22% stayed with the treatments in the long run and the majority of all patients reported having decreased symptoms overall. That’s a huge statistic compared to other programs where patients aren’t as motivated to stick with their treatment plan and risk higher levels of relapse.

Many addiction programs like this one in San Francisco is already run in several sites across Canada, but the United States has to leap through a few legal obstacles before more can be established. However, with the hope of more adequate administration and supportive local governments, there’s huge potential country to improve our rates of opioid addiction across all walks of life. With less addiction and drug related crimes, our economy and domestic safety can dramatically improve over time.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment In 2019

As for the status of addiction in San Francisco this year, Mayor Farrell and the program managers are optimistic it will do even better than its success last year. More people than ever are reaching out to the program to gain medications and counseling for their addiction problems. With that education, they can learn how to make more controlled and safer choices with their drug abuse, family safety, and career options. There’s even staff designated to point participants to job opportunities after they demonstrate a history of treatment success. Having that chance to restart and rebuild their lives as a contributing member of society is a huge thing!

As a current resident of the Chicago area, I sincerely hope that our government can start establishing a similar problem with the high rates of homelessness, drug related crimes, and overdose we are experiencing. Each large city like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York in the country has the ability and funds to invest in their addiction related healthcare if enough members of their community are pushing for it. Spread the word about the success of combating addiction in San Francisco so we can build strength in numbers for those who need help.

Opioid addictions are taking our country by storm.

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