Recent news indicates that medical providers in San Francisco will proactively take to the streets in an effort to assist homeless people and individuals suffering from drug addiction. The city will start distributing naltrexone and buprenorphine prescriptions in parks and other public areas where these individuals are likely to meet. These medications help to ward off opioid withdrawal and its uncomfortable side effects.
Buprenorphine is a medication that can be taken as a pill or as a film put on the tongue. Medical providers may distribute it on a day-to-day basis or prescribe those with a substance abuse problem multiple doses in one visit. Naltrexone offers more long-term effectiveness because it is an injection whose effects can be felt for one month. Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to this drug as well. Clients need to maintain 7 to 10 days of sobriety before they can experience its medical benefits. Neither method is flawless, but administration of these medications is a step in the right direction.
The city believes in the importance of making anti-addiction medications accessible to the public, regardless of their socioeconomic status, and aims to administer these prescriptions at a city-run pharmacy in the heart of San Francisco. Though the city characterizes the plan as original, several other communities throughout the United States have led similar efforts. Still, many in San Francisco understand that opioid treatment methods are desperately needed and praise the city’s hands-on approach to community engagement.
Although there are an estimated 7,000 homeless people living in San Francisco, the program was only able to treat 95 people in its first year. Co-occurring disorders also pose a challenge to sobriety, as 66 percent of participants suffered from psychiatric conditions. Nevertheless, the program aims to treat 250 more users by next spring with its $3 million yearly budget.