Heroin is an extremely deadly and addictive narcotic that can lead to fatalities as well as serious health issues. The most recent data indicates that overdose mortality and heroin use are increasing in the US, particularly in certain areas and cities. San Francisco, California, is one of these cities that has the highest national heroin usage rate.
Heroin Usage in California
California has a sizable and diverse drug market, making it one of the most populated and diverse states in the US. Californians over the age of 12 reported using alcohol in the previous month, and 20% reported using marijuana in the previous year, according to the California Health Care Foundation, indicating that substance use is common in the state. Even though many people use drugs and alcohol in a safe manner, abusing these substances—including illegal narcotics—can have short- or long-term negative effects on one’s health.
In California, heroin is one of the illegal substances that is most frequently abused. It is unlawful to buy heroin from a dealer, and 0.4% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 are hooked to it, according to California Behavioral Health. Heroin has the same effects as fentanyl and OxyContin because they are both opioids. However, some users find heroin more tempting than prescription opioids because it is sometimes more affordable and readily available.
In California, heroin usage has detrimental effects on both individuals and society as a whole. After methamphetamine, heroin is the second most common drug-related cause of death in the state, according to the Addiction Blog. Heroin is also responsible for 24.9% of admissions to drug abuse treatment in California; the next most common substances are alcohol (11.8%), marijuana (12.7%), and opioids other than heroin (4.6%).
Heroin Addiction in San Francisco
California’s largest city, San Francisco, is home to over 880,000 inhabitants. It is renowned for its social activism, technological innovation, and diversity of cultures. It is also well-known for having high rates of drug addiction, poverty, and homelessness. With an estimated 24,500 injection drug users in the city compared to 16,000 public school students, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that there are more drug users than high school students in the city.
In San Francisco, heroin is the most often used injectable substance. The main substance reported by 44% of injecting drug users in 2019 was heroin, followed by methamphetamine (40%), cocaine (8%), and other drugs (8%), according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. With 236 overdose deaths in 2019, heroin was likewise the most often used narcotic in San Francisco, trailed by fentanyl (152), methamphetamine (126), and cocaine (37).
As per a research conducted by the RAND Corporation, San Francisco has the highest heroin consumption rate in the US, with an approximate daily consumption of 2.1 kilos, or 0.0024 grams, per person. This is more than four times the consumption rate of Los Angeles, the second-highest city in the research, with 0.0006 grams per person per day, and more than twice the national average of 0.001 grams per person per day.
The Reasons Behind San Francisco’s Highest Heroin Consumption Rate
San Francisco has a high rate of heroin consumption for a variety of reasons, including the drug’s accessibility and purity, the absence of efficient treatment and prevention initiatives, the city’s social and economic circumstances, and political and cultural perspectives on drug use.
The quality and accessibility of heroin in San Francisco is one of the primary contributing causes. The majority of the heroin used in San Francisco’s heroin trafficking is imported from Mexico and Colombia, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, making it a key hub for the drug trade on the West Coast.
Since the purity of the heroin sold in San Francisco often ranges from 50% to 80%, it is more strong and addicting. A gram of heroin costs roughly $80, which is less expensive than $200 in New York or $400 in Chicago.
The absence of successful preventative and treatment initiatives in San Francisco is another contributing factor. Only a small portion of the $1.8 billion San Francisco spends annually on behavioral health care and homelessness is allocated to drug treatment and harm reduction, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
There are around 2,500 treatment slots available in the city for substance use disorders; however, only 1,200 of those slots are for opioid use disorders, and only 600 are for medication-assisted treatment—the most successful kind of treatment for heroin addiction. In addition, the city has a small number of safe injection locations and syringe exchanges, which can lower the risk of HIV and hepatitis C transmission among injecting drug users.
The city’s social and economic circumstances make up a third factor. Many people of San Francisco may experience stress and suffering due to the city’s high cost of living, wide income disparity, and serious housing issue. About 70% of the 8,000 homeless people in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, suffer from drug use disorders.
Many of them endure violence, disease, and harassment from the authorities while living in tents or on the streets. In addition, a lot of them struggle with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can make their drug usage worse.
The political and cultural perspectives in San Francisco on drug usage constitute a fourth factor. San Francisco has a long history of drug experimentation and tolerance that dates back to the psychedelic era of the 1960s and 1970s and the hippie movement. Additionally, the city has a long history of social justice and civil rights, which may have an impact on how it approaches drug enforcement and policy.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city has legalized the possession of small amounts of drugs and implemented the harm reduction theory, which seeks to lessen rather than completely eradicate the negative effects of drug usage.
Some critics counter that this strategy has gone too far and that the city should strike a balance between responsibility and compassion, as well as increase the incentives and assistance available to drug users to seek treatment and rehabilitation.
- Heroin is a highly addictive and lethal substance that endangers both the health and welfare of users as well as entire communities. Due to a number of factors, including the drug’s availability and purity, the dearth of programs for treatment and prevention, the social and economic climate of the city, and political and cultural attitudes toward drug use, San Francisco has the highest rate of heroin consumption in the country.