The Department of Public Sickness Welcomes You to San Francisco

Where clean is a dirty word and drug supplies are free to all

Come to San Francisco to either remain an addict or to become one.

Here we embrace the perfectly fine lifestyle of pumping a needle full of heroin into a limb which may soon turn black with necrosis. You can smoke methamphetamine until you’re so psychotic that you can bang your head into a wall until you gush blood without even noticing, or terrorize an innocent person who made the mistake of walking by.

Another option is to go straight to fentanyl. This highly toxic synthetic opioid is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. It’s very popular these days. We will make sure that you have access to plenty of free foil and straws with which to smoke it. You can descend deep into a habit in a flash without having to spend a penny of your own money on supplies.

We are the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Please excuse our confusing title. Although our base budget is $2.6 billion, we do not directly provide programs for people who desperately need help off drugs so they can become healthy. Rather we refer to outside organizations for detox (20 beds currently open) and short-to longer-term rehabilitation stays (a paltry 60 spaces available).

Harm reduction is really our thing, though, not abstinence. Instead of getting you clean and sober (dirty words around here) we promote methods that reduce the physical, social, emotional and economic harms associated with drug and alcohol use.

Still, we recognize that taking too much is easy. Fentanyl, especially. We’ve known it for years. In response, we distribute naloxone to you and your friends so you can revive each other when you do overdose. In the event of survival, our DOPE Project recommends a welcome back message. Congratulations. You made it another day.

If chasing the high isn’t as fun as you thought it would be, don’t fret. Odds are you’ll be dead before someone can administer the naloxone (or it won’t be sufficient) and none of this will matter. Heck, over 700 of you died of overdoses in 2020 and we’re on pace to break that record this year. Membership to this club is escalating quickly. While not as exclusive as it used to be, they’ve paid the dues.

We can’t achieve this type of progress alone, however. Our network includes noted nonprofit organizations, such as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Sure we started with excellent and noble intentions but now we are doing our darnedest to provide drug supply paraphernalia to every one of you so you can all ride that downward trajectory. To appease the pesky neighbors who are alarmed by the piles of discarded syringes, we’ll pick them up if you text us with the location. Oh, the people passed out with needles still in their bodies? Sorry, not our department.

We also work with Glide Memorial Church. You know the one, with the world-famous choir. Tears of spiritual joy will roll down your face as you clap along to our songs of God and grace. Here you can also get goodie bags bursting with drug gear. See you somewhere on the other side, assuming there is one.

Meanwhile we have the approval – nay, the excitement! - of many city and state politicians. Senator Scott Wiener, for example, is working terrifically hard to normalize drug culture. Instead of increasing and improving treatment centers that address deadly addiction and psychiatric concerns, he’s focusing on launching sites where people can imbibe and not die on the premises.

Of course most of our important supporters do not consume the hard stuff. Certainly they don’t live on the street in their own filth, where dealers and other users prey on them night and day. They’re not trading their tired, sick bodies for their next fix. Their loved ones aren’t losing sleep wondering where they are, begging them to return home or depleting their retirement accounts trying to save them. No, our supporters are safe with secure salaries, comfortable homes, and robust physiques.

As you can see, we are committed. If we can’t inspire you to join the nearly 25,000 drug users in San Francisco, the invitation to your friends and relatives always stands. When they end up collapsed in an alley or in front of City Hall, rest assured that we will not pass judgment. They’re dues-paying members, after all.