Used Needles Littering San Francisco Streets As Heroin Crisis Grips NorCal

San Francisco residents are complaining about a record number of used and discarded syringes littering the streets, as a growing heroin epidemic grips Northern California. 

The city distributes nearly 5 million needles each year through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users who might otherwise share needles. 

The city distributes an estimated 400,000 syringes each month through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users. About 246,000 syringes are discarded through the city's 13 syringe access and disposal sites. But thousands of the others end up on streets, in parks and other public areas... -AP

While syringes discarded in public areas have become a nationwide problem amid a growing opium crisis, the problem in population-dense San Francisco (about 50 square miles) is much more noticeable given the city's growing homeless population. Last year there were 9,500 requests by residents for needle pick-ups by the city. So far this year, there have been 3,700 requests. 

Despite the needles strewn around the city, San Francisco officials have no plans to change their needle program.

“Research shows that reducing access to clean syringes increases disease and does not improve the problem of needle litter,” said Barbara Garcia, director of the Department of Public Health.

In response to the problem, Mayor Mark Farrell has hired 10 workers to go around the city picking up needles. 

Meanwhile to the north, the coastal town of Eureka has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic which has spread throughout California's rural north. 

While the state as a whole has one of the lowest overall opioid-related death rates in the country, a sharp rise in heroin use across the rural north in recent years has raised alarms. In Humboldt County, the opioid death rate is five times higher than the state average, rivaling the rates of states like Maine and Vermont that have received far more national attention. -NY Times

Eureka, with its sizeable homeless population, lack of affordable housing and a "changing, weakened economy that relies heavily on tourism" has been hit particularly hard. 

Intravenous drug use has been a persistent menace across rural California for decades, but longtime drug users who once sought methamphetamine — which is also often injected — are increasingly looking to score heroin or opioid pills instead. An astonishingly high rate of opioid prescription in Humboldt County has bred addiction, officials said, and the craving is increasingly sated by a growing market for heroin. -NYT

I’ve lost so many people to this,” said 46-year-old Stacy Cobine, a chronically homeless woman who has struggled with drug abuse.

While Meth is still the drug of choice in Humboldt, Chief Deputy Coroner at the County Sheriff's Department, Ernie Stewart, says he is certain that the county's heroin-related overdoses are "way underreported," and that meth and heroin abuse is affecting every type of person locally - not just the homeless. 

And with such heavy use of opioids comes the trash...

With the sharp increases in use and overdoses, syringe litter has become a significant flash point for the town’s middle-class residents, particularly because tourism is so important for Eureka and the surrounding region. The town’s homeless have borne the brunt of the blame and frustration. Many Eurekans described various shocking experiences, including witnessing injections on public streets. They worry that discarded syringes could threaten children and tourists playing in the area’s parks. -NYT

Like San Francisco, Humboldt distributes clean needles to drug users through the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction. Many residents blame the organization, founded in 2014 to combat the spread of hepatitis C, for the proliferation of needle litter. The exchange has given out close to one million clean syringes since 2017, while founder Brandie Wilson says her group gets around 94% of the used needles back. 

“Our Hep C and mental health and drug use and homeless and opioid use issues, all of those are so intertwined with being rural, and with a culture of silence,” she said. “No matter where I looked, there was no help. There was no help.

Another factor which many point to is the break-up of a major homeless encampment by Humboldt officials. 

The needle litter problem intensified two years ago when the town removed a homeless encampment along the Palco Marsh where somewhere between 250 and 400 homeless people had been sleeping.

City officials and health service workers had encouraged the town’s large homeless population for years to go there. The tent city, which was colloquially called Devil’s Playground, provided a place to sleep and to linger during the day, but it also saw severely unsanitary health conditions and, at times, violence. In 2016, the town decided to clear the camp to install a bike path along the water, and did not allow a new camp anywhere else. -NYT

And while Humboldt County does what it can, many are pointing a finger at the state of California for not taking enough action.

“The state is failing miserably, and you can quote me on that,” said Mr. Stewart, the deputy coroner. “The state is failing miserably across the board. They are not putting enough funding and resources toward rehabilitation.”

Mike McGuire, who represents several Northern California counties including Humboldt in the State Senate, said that government leaders needed to be more proactive about expanding resources in rural parts of the state. He said rural Californians are “desperate” for more assistance.

“Humboldt County is just a few hours up Highway 101,” he said, “but as an individual travels further north on the highway, it’s like you take a step back in time. We need to step up to the plate and provide rural counties with the tools they need to combat this crisis.”

We’re just trying to figure out how to keep people alive while we wait for more treatment up here,” said Wilson.


CPL pc_babe Tue, 05/15/2018 - 07:33 Permalink

Always.  The fastest way to cull the stupid from the herd is to promote, in a negative fashion of course, to the destructive life that comes from hard drug use then flood the market with a cheap supply of herion.  Better yet follow up with a lifestyle promotion to the herion chic fashion marketing.

Grooms the stupid out of the population, hopefully before they breed.  If the do then their crotch fruit are claimed by the system to further employment in the social services/welfare sector to reeducate the byproducts of the herion trade for total state ownership.

All part of the ten planks of communism and social engineering. 

In reply to by pc_babe

CPL Chris2 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 07:52 Permalink

No people are just incredibly stupid and it's far easier to let them make a choice on what type of stupidity they want to ingest, snort or inject.  Point being is the proof is there that even with decades of public education that attempting to fight a herd of cracked out, violent, stupid, religious savages is as simple as government control and pricing of the supply of the deadly narcotics that are all flown in by the local governments and churches (3rd largest drug distribution network is owned by the Vatican) since  no small time operators would ever be able to supply the sheer volume of poison on the street.

8 billion people and it's not enough to stem the flow of overhead people.  Just means the price of herion needs to become more affordable for places like India, China, Asia, Africa and South America. That's if they were truly serious about dropping their head count to manageble levels.

In reply to by Chris2

silverer Erwin643 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 07:34 Permalink

The elites saw the benefits of recycling long ago. The government gives these people money taken from the productive sector, the street fools spend the money on drugs, so the money goes back to the government because it's the government that runs the drug business. Then the government uses the money for the military to patrol the poppy fields so they can use the revenue to feed the failing banks and governments for whatever pet projects and payoffs they want or need to do.

In reply to by Erwin643

Ex-Oligarch Manthong Tue, 05/15/2018 - 08:01 Permalink

“'Research shows that reducing access to clean syringes increases disease and does not improve the problem of needle litter,' said Barbara Garcia, director of the Department of Public Health."

Reality shows that the research was wrong. 

Barbara Garcia just won't admit it, because her comfortable sinecure distributing public grant money to her friends would be threatened.

In reply to by Manthong

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 JimmyJones Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:31 Permalink

What is crazy is that our society enables these people. I know, I have several addicts, alcoholics, and mentally ill in my family. My youngest sibling passed away last May. She was 45 years old and died the week before Mother's Day leaving behind three children (three different fathers). She started using meth at a young age and kept using drugs until her death. Why did she die? The big lie she told, to anyone that would listen, is she had Lupus. No. She died of AIDS. She traded her body for drugs for a number of years. She also went to rehab a number of times (at Tax Mule expense, of course) and I think she spent a year in prison for theft (she stole cars at one time).

I tried at a very early stage to get her help, to help her, and was rebuffed. I was the bad person telling her how to live her life, how to care for her child, and the one who called CPS for child neglect and child abuse. It had absolutely no effect. Every step of the way the government enabled her bad behavior. They rewarded her with welfare for each bastard child. They paid for each failed attempt at rehab. Of course her medical records were kept private and the family was not informed, of anything, unless she requested or allowed that release of information, signed.

This Sunday my sister's three motherless children had to deal with Mother's Day. Do you think they were celebrating?

In reply to by JimmyJones

Lucretius Rex Andrus Tue, 05/15/2018 - 04:04 Permalink


thank you for the link! I just logged in for the first time in a month or more to say as much. This, in my estimation is the beauty and value of ZH, the richness of community   .

 As to the needle using / flinging maggots in SF / Humboldt, F#@k em, Kali deserves them, they nurture them. How about that western wall, AZ /NV need protection as well!

 Peace, L.

PS, don't feed the trolls.

In reply to by Rex Andrus

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Megaton Jim Tue, 05/15/2018 - 00:44 Permalink

The way the money is spent on these people is a problem. I agree with you! They are not held accountable. Families are not asked about solutions. Basically the US Tax Mule pays for these people to live in an insane manner until they die.

I am a proponent of changing the laws on vagrancy and the chronically mentally ill, alcoholics, and addicts (I include addicts in the mentally ill category) and would fully support stronger laws that allow law enforcement, medical professionals, and families to force such people into state-run mental facilities for extended periods of time against their will. Letting these people live on the street, or giving them welfare, certainly isn't working to solve the problem, thus far.

In reply to by Megaton Jim

Shift For Brains HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 01:28 Permalink

I think anyone with a heart--and not just chest thumping--would feel regret that ANY human being trades a life that could be productive and fulfilled to some greater or lesser extent for a life of physical distress, mental turmoil, alienation from family and friends and probably early death. HRH seems to me to be very reasonable about balancing care for the person vs seeing some help as ultimately hastening their death.

We SHOULD care about those who abuse drugs. That doesn't mean, like the softheaded liberals think, you show that care by giving them what they demand. What the System does to the non-abuser is almost as bad. It nurtures in us a hardness of heart because, rightfully, we resent having our hard earned money that should be used for OUR needs and those of our family going to people who are wasting their life. A moral system would provide help for those who are struggling with addiction but not, for one moment, faciliate their descent into hell.  Instead, we have a huge bureaucracy that steals our money at the point of gun, gives a huge percentage away to the drones who administer the program and then comes up with ideas like a normal society is "doing good" by providing addicts the tools to kill themselves sooner.

It has become impossible to introduce sanity, let alone common sense, into these discussions because the liberal mind is a fixed star. "Help" is giving people endless rehab classes or delivering the babies they can't afford while you impoverish the people who are pulling the wagon the way everyone should be doing.

This system cannot, and will not, last because it attempts to enforce insane and immoral policies while lecturing the normally functioning person about  how they are not doing enough to save every abuser.

I always like to provide this takeaway: Burn the motherfucker to the ground. That's the only way we can save it.

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0