San Francisco Burden of Disease & Injury Study:
Determinants of Health
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Illicit Drugs Home Page

The most immediately striking feature of San Francisco's drug problem is its large but greatly overtaxed treatment system. The magnitude of San Francisco's drug problem can be seen in the health outcomes section of this website: poisonings (most of which due to illicit drugs, alone or in combination alcohol) are the sixth leading cause of years of life lost. In fact, San Francisco has the highest drug-related death rate of all the counties in California. The drug-related death rate in San Francisco is double that of California (see SF-CA comparisons page). In addition, illicit drug use contributes to violence, HIV infection, and other health problems in San Francisco. (See also the Downstream page.)

During 2003-4, opiates accounted for a third of the substances treated in San Francisco's substance abuse system; alcohol accounted for 23%; cocaine for 22%, methamphetamine 11%, and marijuana 9%. These patterns tend to shift over time, and we know from national data that we are probably treating less than half of the problem. Currently, San Francisco is in the midst of a methamphetamine epidemic that is increasing the number of new cases of sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV.

A substance abuse prevention plan, which will build upon the Department of Public Health's Prevention Strategic Plan, will be completed in 2006.

Illicit Drugs


Contribution to overall disease burden in SF

Downstream (Health Consequences)

Upstream (Causes)

What can be done?

Web resources

MEDLINE strategies

Updated September 26, 2005

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