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San Francisco not sure if latest effort to curb drug epidemic is helping addicts get sober: Report

Autor: Gabriel Hays

The city of San Francisco last year adopted a new effort in an attempt to get drug use under control. But it’s unclear if it’s working. Several drug users who have been arrested for using fentanyl out in the city streets have gone on record to say that their detainment hasn’t spurred them to kick their habit or seek treatment.

The San Francisco Chronicle spoke to several users who were arrested for doing drugs in public under the city’s new aggressive drug enforcement policies, who say it hasn’t been enough of a reckoning to inspire them to get sober. 

“I’m not ready. It would just be a waste of time,” 31-year-old Kenneth McCurry told the outlet about the idea of going to rehab after being in jail for two and-a-half weeks.

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Drug dealers and drug users huddled on a street corner

Drug dealers and drug users huddle together across the street from the San Francisco Federal Building.  (Fox News Digital / Jon Michael Raasch)

McCurry was arrested in April for “riding a scooter on the sidewalk and into United Nations Plaza. Officers said they then noticed a black plastic bag on the scooter ‘full of suspected narcotics in plain view,’ The Chronicle reported, citing court records.

Upon his release, McCurry – who said he had been using illegal drugs since he was 15 – said he went right back to using the minute he got out of jail.

According to the Chronicle, 33-year-old Jandre Blakely was arrested late last year for being under the influence of fentanyl. Having used it while living on the city streets for six years, he told the outlet that his arrest hasn’t spurred him to get clean either, saying, “Honestly it’s really hard (to get sober or go to a treatment program), because you can’t just swerve on the drop of a dime.”

“I think what would be better is making sure people get shelter first,” he recommended.

A 34-year-old homeless user named Ashley Hauntly and five of her homeless friends were “cited and released on misdemeanor drug charges near Mission and Eighth streets” last month, the Chronicle stated. The outlet detailed cite and release as “a law enforcement procedure that involves writing a ticket for minor criminal offenses and issuing a notice to appear in court.”

Hauntly told the paper that though getting the ticket made her want to stop using out in public, her lack of housing prompted her to continue smoking fentanyl on San Francisco streets. 

She told the paper that her and her boyfriend are most focused on “trying to get housing,” adding, “For treatment, it would depend on what it is, because we can’t split up.”

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London Breed presser

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 6: Mayor London Breed speaks during the celebration of the 9th Annual Chinatown Night Out as San Francisco Police Department Command Staff and community members attend in San Francisco, California, United States on September 6, 2023.  (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

These examples represent the city’s ongoing struggles to get drug addicts into treatment. As the outlet noted, Mayor London Breed pushed for law enforcement to take a more “aggressive” approach and arrest users and dealers around the city, hoping this would both get offenders off the street and get them to seek help.

Because of this plan, police have arrested 1,300 suspected drug users and more than 1,000 suspected dealers in the last year. However, a tiny fraction of these detainees have actually sought out substance abuse treatment on their own following their arrests. 

At the very least, the mayor’s office has stated that the more aggressive enforcement plan has “helped to curb illegal activities and improve deteriorating downtown street conditions,” the outlet noted. 

Breed’s spokesperson, Jeff Cretan, told the Chronicle that even if detainees don’t go for treatment immediately after their arrests, it “doesn’t mean they don’t accept or seek help through numerous other interventions afterwards.”

Breed has sought other initiatives to curb drug use in her city. She unveiled a plan last September to require anyone receiving welfare to comply with mandatory drug testing and treatment programs amid growing pressure to get ahold of the city’s homeless and fentanyl crises.

San Francisco voters passed a pair of law-and-order ballot measures proposed by Breed in March that enacted tougher crackdown on drug users and other crime in the city, including one proposal to increase police surveillance powers and the other to enforce her welfare drug screening plan.

Breed’s office did not reply to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. Neither did the San Francisco Police Department. 

Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace, David Rutz, and Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report. 

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Gabriel Hays is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. 

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