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Freedom
To Suffer

A stroll around my neighborhood for a story I’ve watched unravel outside my window the past 3 years. At first it was the occasional one or two people passed out standing hunched over. They call it the fentanyl fold as their backs slowly become fixed that way. As the pandemic continued, I saw more younger and seemingly housed people passed out - almost as if they had a bender of a night and would just stumble home after they finished their high. New cheaper and exponentially stronger synthetic opioids enveloped users so that their only purpose was to score more and push off back to their highs. Dealers don’t care about high customer churn rates. The more overdosed customers they have, the more new ones hear and hurry to take their place - an indicator the product is good. SF General sends recovered overdose patients off by themselves to check into rehab. Dealers strategically camp outside rehab and methadone clinics to lure them back in.

A man going through an overdose was having his pockets flipped by a woman for his stash - a gym friend told me as I passed by. He had administered narcan as the man’s eyes started rolling back. We watched the paramedics cover the body and congratulate their new team member on her first overdose victim response.

Jacqui Berlinn searches for her son Corey and pleads with him to come home. San Francisco’s harm reduction industry provides food, housing opportunities, and foil/needles while city leaders work from home instead of their offices - now surrounded by open air drug markets. As a city want to be compassionate and give people the freedom to choose to go to rehab but can our city’s public resources alone convince them to stop when even their mothers are helpless?

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