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California expands pilot program to fight meth addiction with gift cards, incentives

California has come up with a new way to fight methamphetamine addiction: encouraging consumers to be careful with gift cards.

The Golden State will begin its expanded pilot program in 24 counties, targeting major urban centers grappling with drug-addicted homelessness as seen in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

According to the state, “Individuals will be able to receive incentive incentives in the form of low-value gift cards, with retail value determined per treatment episode.” Department of Health Care Services website.

Eligible participants will be placed in a 24-week outpatient program, followed by additional recovery treatments for an additional six months if needed. If program participants test positive, they will not receive gift cards or other incentives.

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Homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, February 16, 2022. (Frederick J. Brown/Getty Images)

“If a beneficiary tests negative for a stimulant, they are eligible to receive a benefit during that visit,” reads a state health department FAQ published in September 2022. “The presence of opioids or other drugs will not be an indication to terminate a beneficiary. [contingency management] Treatment would rather indicate that the beneficiary may require additional treatment, either concurrently or later.”

But some Los Angeles County residents aren’t sure the program will go down well with its homeless population, which is riddled with mental illness and drug addiction. Meth is often the drug of choice among the county’s homeless population.

A man holds a needle for meth use in Seattle.

A homeless man holds a syringe after injecting methamphetamine into his arm on March 13, 2022 in Seattle. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Soledad Ursova, a Venice Beach resident and neighborhood council member, told Fox News Digital that she is concerned that drug addiction among the homeless is too strong to be overcome with small financial incentives, as she is used to seeing “homeless people suffer psychological breakdowns every day” because of drugs.

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“It looks like another ill-advised attempt to put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” Ursova said. “It’s not going to solve anything in a state that enables drug addiction.”

California has adopted what is known as the “harm reduction model” when dealing with drug addiction on the streets. Provide clean needles and syringes Consumers in exchange for their waste as well as containers for cooking. Proponents of this model say it reduces infection and disease transmission.

Fentanyl smoking

Cheyenne Willow, 27, smokes fentanyl through a glass pipe Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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“You can use meth, heroin, fentanyl and other drugs without fear of arrest,” Ursova said of the L.A. situation. “This has led to an explosion of people living in camps, on our roads and in RVs.”

According to a May report, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found a troubling trend among the homeless: Fatal fentanyl overdoses tripled from 2019 to 2020 and methamphetamine overdoses more often in 2021, accounting for at least two deaths per day.

Statewide, California boasts the highest number of homeless people in the country, estimated at a record 171,000 last year. Gov. Gavin Newsom Made a plan Earlier this year counties invested $1 billion in building 1,200 temporary tiny homes for homeless people, with access to extensive drug recovery treatment.

“The homelessness crisis will never be solved without first solving the housing crisis — the two issues are intertwined,” Newsom said in March.

Fox News Digital has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

Source by [Fox News]



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