San Francisco’s Need for Opioid Treatment
In the U.S., at least two million people suffering from opioid use disorders. Although California is not on the top of the list of states with high overdose deaths, the epidemic still rages there. Walking down the streets of San Francisco, one might come across used syringes. These scattered needles are indicative of the current opioid epidemic.
In 2014, prescription opiates killed more people than heroin. However, heroin is now especially prevalent in San Francisco, with an estimated 22,000 people currently using. Each year, heroin use and opioid addiction only worsen. Injecting heroin is the fastest way to feel the effects of the drug, but it is also the riskiest method of use. Not only is the risk of overdose substantially increased, but there are additional medical risks including HIV and hepatitis C.
San Francisco is Using Naloxone
In 2016, The San Francisco Department of Health released a report showing naloxone decreased the number of overdose deaths and emergency room visits. Primary care physicians began prescribing naloxone alongside opiate painkillers as a preventive measure for long-term chronic pain patients. In particular, patients that received naloxone had an average of 47% fewer ER visits for opioid-related issues.
Naloxone is also available at pharmacies without a prescription. In addition, the health department decided to provide naloxone training to librarians. Their goal was to ensure that those who were likely to witness an overdose would be able to intervene. As of 2016, the number of lives saved from naloxone almost doubled.
Will San Francisco Be the First U.S. City to Offer Safe Injection Sites?
Public health officials are attempting to reduce the city’s medical costs and harm due to dirty needles. Therefore, they want to implement safe injection sites by July 2018. They believe that approximately 85% of IV heroin users would utilize safe injection sites. These sites would provide access to medical and social services as well.
Furthermore, the open use of heroin on San Francisco streets prompted the majority of citizens to vote in favor of the bill. A recent poll found that 67% backed the bill. Many of those not in favor of the idea feel that it supports illegal drug use.
Opioid Treatment in San Francisco
San Francisco provides a large number of social services and bases much of their treatment on harm reduction methods. The goal of this method is less about recovery and more about reducing the health risks associated with drug use. Some examples include safe injection sites and Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT).
Most rehabs and outpatient addiction providers offer MAT. This type of treatment includes the use of opioid replacement drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine-based drugs, like Suboxone. Physicians prescribe these drugs at an inpatient or outpatient facilities to stop cravings and withdrawal symptoms from other opioids such as heroin or oxycodone. Patients then have the option of remaining on these replacement drugs long-term or weaning down slowly. These drugs are opioids themselves, therefore they too have substantial side effects and withdrawal symptoms when patients attempt to quit.
This form of treatment is not adequate for those wanting to become opioid-free. Individuals taking painkillers such as oxycodone are likely to experience less severe withdrawal symptoms then they would from taking Suboxone. This means that tapering off oxycodone can actually be easier than tapering off Suboxone. In conclusion, maintenance treatment can be counterproductive for many patients, leaving them in the hopeless cycle of dependence.
Medical Opioid Detox and Rapid Detox
For those seeking the highest quality of medical care and the safest opioid detox available, The Waismann Method is the first choice. We use the latest medical science to treat opioid dependence as a medical condition. For 20 years, we have maintained our international reputation as one of the most successful opioid detox facilities.
The quadruple board-certified medical director admits patients to their private room in a full-service, accredited hospital. Prior to any detox procedure, patients receive a comprehensive pre-examination, assessment, and individualized treatment plan. The medical director always adapts his treatment plan to the individual medical, physiological and emotional needs of each patient.
Lastly, staff transfer clients to our exclusive recovery center, Domus Retreat, for additional care. During their stay, clients receive the clock support, individual psychotherapy, and holistic services such as massage and yoga. All of these services assist in the physical and emotional recovery, which increases the chances of living a successful, opioid-free life.