(Courtesy image)

Task force assembled to combat rise in meth use

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Friday she will be forming a new task force with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to combat what they say is a recent rise in methamphetamine use in the city.

The Methamphetamine Task Force will look at the drug’s impact on residents in high-use areas and ways to increase treatment and rehabilitation options, as well as expanding current prevention and law enforcement programs.

“San Francisco is facing serious challenges around substance use, particularly on our streets, and we cannot just let these drugs destroy lives and harm our communities. By bringing together leaders and specialists from across the city, we can identify solutions that will help us to get people into treatment and to deal with the challenges caused by this dangerous drug,” Breed said in a statement.

“Meth addiction is increasing among the most vulnerable San Franciscans, including those with underlying mental illnesses who are living on our streets,” Mandelman said in a statement. “Without more effective interventions, mentally ill and meth-addicted individuals will continue deteriorating on our sidewalks, in our emergency rooms, and in our jails. Ultimately many will suffer severe and irreversible health consequences or die.”

Dr. Anton Bland, medical director of psychiatric emergency services at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said, “These days, about half of our patients are experiencing methamphetamine intoxication, and come to us suffering from effects that can include anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis. Some of them may have underlying mental illness, and some do not. We are looking for ways to extend their possibilities for recovery, and the meth task force will help us to identify needed services and treatment options.”

Since 2008, overdose rates involving meth use in the city has tripled from 1.8 to 5.6 persons per 100,000, according to the mayor’s office. The increase is happening as health officials are also seeing a heightened concern around fentanyl–a synthetic opioid sometimes used alongside meth.

The Methamphetamine Task Force will being convening in the spring and then later in the fall. The task force will release a report with
recommendations for reducing the drug’s impact and getting users into treatment.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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