San Diego County leaders unveil plan to battle drug addiction

Posted at 8:45 AM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 14:53:33-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County officials are stepping up their efforts to tackle the growing problem of drug addiction.

With the opioid crisis hitting the San Diego region hard, officials plan to devote more money and resources towards the Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) Treatment Delivery System.

Through the SUDs plan, the county will expand services available for low-income citizens in an attempt to serve more communities. The county will also increase spending from $54.6 million to $179.6 million to address opioid and other substance abuse disorders.

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In the most recent statistics, from 2016, there were 253 opiate overdose deaths in San Diego County. Many of the deaths were due to an influx of the drugs Fentanyl and Carfentanil, which can be 30 to 100 times more powerful than heroin.

Many of these illegal drugs are coming into San Diego from across the border, and County District Attorney Summer Stephan said the city is an epicenter of the problem.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts said the crisis affects everyone.

“Go to the jails, go to the hospitals; look throughout our whole social service network and you’ll see that this is weighing as a heavy part of our problem. Old people, young people, it doesn’t make a difference anymore … let’s change those lives,” Roberts said.

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Ahead of Monday morning's official announcement, county leaders said: “SUDs deaths, driven by factors that include mental health, homelessness, addictions to opioids and other drugs and San Diego's location as an epicenter for opioid smuggling, are on the rise. Increases are occurring despite the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments and continuing intervention from law enforcement. By offering a full continuum of SUDs benefits modeled after American Society of Addiction Medicine criteria, federal and local funds can be tapped to ensure Drug Medi-Cal enrollees and the uninsured will have access to the care and services tailored to their specific needs to ensure a sustainable and successful recovery.”

The County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the plan Tuesday, and Roberts told 10News he expects the initiative to pass.