As dangerous and serious as drug overdoses are, they don’t have to be deadly. People in California are trying to make drug use safer.
The state of California and California cities such as San Francisco are making efforts to do just that. In 2016, the California State Senate and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) founded a grant program that made the drug naloxone more available throughout the state.
Naloxone is a drug also known by the brand name Narcan. If people administer it quickly enough, naloxone can reverse the effects of opioid/opiate drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. Naloxone does this by blocking certain receptors in the brain so drugs such as fentanyl don’t attach there first.
This means that California is taking a harm reduction approach to help people who have drug problems. That is, the state acknowledges that people use and abuse drugs, so it taking measures to make such drug use safer and less harmful.
California government workers are distributing naloxone to bartenders, club owners, and people who work at music events. They’ve encouraged other people to train people how to use naloxone, which increases the amount of people who can help in a given situation. They’re also taking other measures to make drug use more safe.
For example, doctors at the San Francisco medical examiner’s office notified local harm reduction organizations after the office discovered fentanyl caused a rash of fatal overdoses. California government workers have partnered with local organizations to inform people about drugs and drug trends as well.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health offers a harm reduction center that allows people to exchange their used needles for clean new ones, which could prevent the spread of disease. The center also offers naloxone and medical advice. It also offers test strips that can help determine if fentanyl is mixed with drugs.
These efforts acknowledge that drug addiction is part of our society, but there are ways to make drug use safer until people choose to seek help.