District 8 Supervisor, Rafael Mandelman, announced yesterday via his twitter account that at a GAO meeting Thursday, a lease for a 20-bed drug sobering center was finally approved. The site will open this fall in SoMa.
According to Mandelman, this will likely be the first drug sobering center in the United States and whereas some praised and welcomed the initiative, others took to Twitter to express their anger saying the creation of this center will make the issue worse particularly for the neighborhood.
It was in mid April that Mayor London Breed announced the City was moving forward to open a drug sobering center for people who are experiencing the effects of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other substances.
The drug sobering center will work to prevent overdose deaths and to provide resources that can give people who take drugs an alternative to hospital and jail stays and an opportunity to initiate their journey toward wellness and recovery once they feel ready.
According to the City, the center’s goal is “to promote community safety by providing a place where people can recover off the street from intoxication and be connected to care”, it will also provide “an additional resource and a destination for people served by the growing Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) pilot program and other City outreach teams”.
The center will operate 24 hours per day,seven days per week and serve up to 20 participants by providing wellness services to ensure participants are not a harm to themselves or others, under the care of health professionals.
San Francisco, the country’s most liberal and progressive city, is facing a drug problem which is becoming increasingly more difficult to handle.
Critics claim that a big part of the problem has to do with lenient policies and its “harm reduction” approach which emphasizes “culturally competent, non-judgmental treatment that demonstrates respect and dignity for the individual.”
Drug users are attracted to San Francisco because they are aware of the tolerant policies, and drug trade and supply in the city makes it easy for buyers and sellers to find each other with little chances of being arrested. People who use drugs in the city are offered treatment rather than jail time as the ultimate goal is to help them not not punish them.
The city also provides free hypodermic needles in order to reduce transmissible disease but this has created a public health hazard as many of those needles are disposed all over San Francisco.
An April report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner provided preliminary data with alarming figures; 699 people died from overdoses in 2020.
Between January and February 2021,135 people died from drug abuse compared to 81 in January and February 2020. In March this year, 57 deaths were recorded.
The report states that “due to their significance in accidental overdose deaths, the reported drugs were specific to fentanyl, heroin, medicinal opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine”
Fentanyl, a powerful opioid and way more powerful than heroine, has flooded the city’s supply in recent years and it is widely traded every day of the week as it is possible to overdose in tiny amounts, with health officials confirming that during the lockdown there was an increase in Fentanyl overdoses in San Francisco.