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The Price We Pay for Drug Addiction on the Streets of San Francisco

Addiction is a widespread problem throughout the United States, but there are many unique challenges facing Californians when it comes to substance abuse. The price of substance abuse is not simply an individual one; everyone should have some idea of the dramatic effects addiction can have on a person’s life.

Addiction also takes a heavy toll on communities, and several parts of San Francisco are seeing higher rates of addiction and overdose-related deaths than anywhere in the state.

Individual Toll of Addiction

Any type of addictive substance costs money. Eventually, a person struggling with addiction will not be able to afford his or her substance of choice. What started as a $10 per week habit could easily evolve into a $30 per day expense in a very short time, especially when it comes to highly addictive substances like alcohol and opioids. Drug addiction can demolish a person’s finances in several ways, and the damage usually tallies up very quickly once addiction manifests.

Personal Financial Fallout from Addiction

A person struggling with addiction will often transition from “every once in a while” or “as needed” to full-blown abuse very quickly. Some substances are more chemically addictive than others are, and can interfere with the body’s natural balance of hormones and neurotransmitters. Any addictive substance can also cause profound psychological effects. A person struggling with addiction may begin to prioritize his or her addiction before basic living needs and other important financial obligations.

It is common for a person who is in the throes of drug addiction to suddenly realize that late payment notices have piled up and creditors are looking for their payments. Drug addiction may also interfere with job performance, eventually leading to a person losing his or her job. This will not only dramatically impact his or her finances immediately, but also make it harder to secure employment in the future.

Rehab, Recovery and Relapse

It’s also vital to consider the costs of treating substance abuse. Insurance from an employer may only provide partial coverage for substance abuse treatment, but an individual who doesn’t have a job anymore may not be able to afford private health insurance. Entering treatment may be an entirely out-of-pocket expense.[/two_third_last]

Additionally, recovering from substance abuse doesn’t just apply to physically removing the drugs from a person’s body and teaching him or her new coping skills to replace the addiction. Recovery also entails picking up the pieces of a life destroyed by addiction.

To be more specific, recovery involves repairing bonds with friends and family and returning to normalcy, which usually entails finding work and earning a living again. The stress of everyday life can be extremely difficult after rehab, and there is always the risks of relapse and further economic stress.

Addiction’s Price for Society

Society pays a price for addiction, as well. This cost extends far beyond public funding for addiction treatment services and advocacy programs. Cities must allocate resources to combat drug-related crime and trafficking. Drug overdoses typically lead to expensive medical intervention, for which patients may not be able to pay. The city also pays police officers to investigate and handle drug offenses as they occur.

[one_half]One of the most dangerous aspects of addiction is the fact it encourages violent crime.

Drug traffickers and dealers typically mark their territory, and other dealers may not sell their wares in these areas. Conflicts can easily spark between rival drug operations, and people under the influence of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are more prone to engaging in violent crimes.[/one_half][one_half_last]
Drug abuse can lead to:

  • Acts of violence against innocent civilians
  • Property damage
  • Vehicle accidents from DUI
  • Many other negative consequences


Financial Issues Due to Addiction

Fortunately, most drug addiction-focused programs are cost effective. This means the money spent on these programs typically leads to less public expense related to the effects of addiction. However, it’s imperative for local governments to consistently and carefully track the success of these programs to determine which ones are most effective.

In San Francisco, police officials and lawmakers have identified the most popular areas in the city for drug-related activity. “Drug-related activity” could refer to observed incidents of illegal drug sales, public drug use, or public criminal acts committed by individuals under the influence of illicit drugs.

Parts of San Francisco Most Affected by Addiction

Meth, cocaine and opioids are a few of the most problematic drugs throughout the San Francisco area. Police have identified a few parts of the city where drug incidents occur most often, and these include:

  • Hyde Street, between Turk Street and Golden Gate: This area has a notorious reputation in San Francisco as having the heaviest drug-related activity.
  • 6th Street, between Natoma Street and Jessie Street: This block is arguably the busiest area for meth in the city.
  • Hyde Street, between Market Street and O’Farrell Street: This spot is one of the busiest areas for crack cocaine.
  • Civic Center, the heart of downtown San Francisco: The Civic Center is the geographic hub of drug trade in the city. Heroin, meth and crack cocaine are widely available in the streets surrounding San Francisco City Hall.

To take a sample, from September 2016 through August 2017, there were more than 750 meth-related incidents in these areas. There were more than 400 recorded heroin-related incidents and more than 440 crack cocaine-related incidents, as well.

Dangerous Drugs in Other Parts of San Francisco

It’s important to note that street-level interactions between the police and the drug trade in San Francisco aren’t the only indicator of the widespread addiction problem in San Francisco, and that street dealers aren’t the only means of securing illicit drugs.

San Francisco police officers also note that the Civic Center isn’t the only area where drug-related activities occur daily. For example, the intersection of 16th Street and Mission Street near the BART station is another hotbed of drug activity in San Francisco, but the incident rate is nowhere near as high as the area around the Civic Center.
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The Real Cost of Addiction

Drug abuse presents problems for the individual, as well as society, and there is no way to predict what kind of effects substance abuse might have on a person’s life. Anyone struggling with addiction needs to not only realize the significant economic devastation that will come, but also the possibility that addiction can be fatal.

The thought of entering detox for addiction treatment can be stressful or downright scary for some people, and the idea of overcoming addiction may feel like nothing but a fantasy. However, detox works – especially if it precedes ongoing professional treatment. Medical professionals who specialize in addiction treatment and medically assisted detox can make the process much easier than you might imagine.

The thought of detox may scare you, but continuing down the path of addiction will only devastate the people who care about you. Once you undergo detox and actually experience recovery, you will be glad that you took the first step toward a better life. Overcoming addiction is not as difficult as it may feel at first.

Take action and explore how detox can be the first step toward saving your personal finances and maybe even your life.

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