We love publishing positive stories from our home state. And this week, our neighbors from the south in San Diego made an important move in the battle against addiction. The Board of Supervisors from that county have voted unanimously to increase treatment programs for their residents, with a budget boost of $125 million to help low-income citizens battling addictions.
Titled the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System, the initiative will provide a “continuum of care” for those who cannot afford treatment. The millions in new funding will be partially paid for by the insurance provider Medi-Cal. Their budgets will cover approximately 42.6 percent of the costs, which totals out to roughly $77 million.
It will also bring some new changes in how San Diego County treats addiction. For example, officials plan to introduce medication-assisted addiction treatment for the low-income residents who qualify. This could include the use of methadone. Supervisors like Kristin Gaspar and Dianne Jacob were quick to point out that everything will be closely monitored and specialized, depending on the needs of the individual.
They did feel, however, that this can make a positive dent in curbing overdoses and even the county’s growing homelessness problem. As Gaspar put it, they hope it will create a ripple effect that gets citizens back on their feet and away from addictive substances.
“San Diego is about to become a leader today in the state, and I would be so bold as to say across the entire country,” she emphasized. “It’s significant. With more tools in the toolbox and better connections between providers, this means clients will experience more effective services and a better chance at recovery.”
Local District Attorney Summer Stephan also participated in the new movement, going so far as to add a full-time mental health and drug coordinator to help facilitate those who are in need of assistance.
Interestingly enough, the opioid crisis was not the primary reason that officials felt the need to move this forward. In San Diego, methamphetamines have become a much bigger problem among the residents and is considered a large contributor to people living on the streets. SD’s Health and Human Services Agency director Alfredo Aguirre spoke out about the growing epidemic and how this new program aims to make a difference.
“Sadly, in San Diego number of methamphetamine deaths that could exceed the opioids and heroin.” he told local radio station KPBS. “It is dramatic. It is increasing. The timing is right to initiate this important initiative, to increase our capacity to serve people with addictions and build a system of care for those individuals.”