San francisco leaders tour supervised drug site abroad as city p – kvoa tucson, arizona database online

San Francisco 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. The plan, both controversial and illegal in the U.S., aims to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the San Francisco as well as the staggering amount of used needles scattered across the city.

“We need a new solution,” said Dr. Alex Kral, an infectious disease specialist with the nonprofit research institute RTI International. “Even just adding one of these sites to San Francisco would save the city $3.5 million dollars a year because of the savings in reduced HIV, viral hepatitis, and overdoses.”

Kral, who has been studying drug use in San Francisco for 25 years, was one of 15 people to serve on a government task force aimed at studying supervised injection sites and their potential impacts to drug users and the community.

The panel, which included representatives from San Francisco’s police and health departments, recommend the city open “multiple safe injection service sites.”

San Francisco now plans to open two supervised injection sites by August, which would likely be followed by several more within the next year. The move is a response to an explosion of public drug use and the dangerous paraphernalia that is often left behind on San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks.

“How about finding another way to save their lives other than offering them their poison?” said Bishop Ron Allen, who heads the International Faith Based Coalition, a drug prevention group in Sacramento that boasts 6,000 members nationwide and opposes supervised injection sites.

“To think that an addict will walk in, with their arms on dope, or marijuana or heroin, and these injection sites will give them needles or whatever or whatever it takes, and they’re going to want to go to treatment that day is absolute foolishness.”

“I’m homeless and this is my life and it’s not going to just change overnight and I’m going to wake up again tomorrow in the same tent or in the same doorway or under the same random thing that I found on the sidewalk,” said Tiffany Falstich, who is addicted to heroin. “I hate being this every day.”

“It’s not enabling drug users, it’s enabling drug users to seek care,” said Darwin Fisher, who runs Insite, North America’s first supervised injection site situated on the eastside of Vancouver. “People come into a hygienic space with running water, a roof over them, nursing care, and people who will support them in the event of an overdose.”

Randolph was one of more than 30 business and government leaders from San Francisco to tour one of Vancouver’s supervised injection sites in early May. The trip, organized by the San Srancisco Chamber of Commerce, included representatives from the Mayor’s office, SF Travel, California Growers Association, Lyft, Uber, and several other groups and agenies curious about supervised injection sites.

Addicts who use the facility are assigned their own station and provided sterile syringes and a place to dispose of them. When someone overdoses, trained staff step in to inject life-saving drugs. Workers also help addicts get into housing and enroll in rehab services.

“It’s hard to really explain, but it’s like home here,’ said Stephanie Peterson, a drug user who frequents Vancouver’s supervised injection sites. “When I first started coming here it was, obviously, for my drug use, but I’ve developed a very big relationship with a majority of the workers,” she said. “I look at them like a family so I come here to use, but I also come here when things are rough.”

Peterson, 28, said the sites have given her a second chance at life – in more ways than one. She has continued to use drugs since running away from home at 13. Since then, she has more often than not been homeless. Since visiting the Molson Overdose Prevention site in Vancouver, however, she has been able to get housing and now plans to enroll in college.

In San Francisco, drug centers have broad political support. NBC Bay Area surveyed all 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Eight supervisors declared support for the sites, including Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer, Catherine Stefani, Aaron Peskin, Katy Tang, London Breed, Jane Kim, Jeff Sheehy, and Hillary Ronan. Supervisor Malia Cohen declined to comment, while Supervisors Norman Yee and Ahsah Safai did not respond to the request.