SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Santa Clara County officials unveil new treatment-focused strategies to help residents struggling with substance abuse disorders.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Susan Ellenberg held a press conference alongside fellow County leaders to announce efforts to address a substance abuse disorder crisis. These efforts will serve 700 people each year by adding 15 to 20 detox beds at detoxification centers throughout the county.
“Focusing the conversation on public health is critical,” said Supervisor Ellenberg.
“Improved treatment in recovery infrastructure is at the root of addressing not only the substance abuse disorder crisis but also the resulting or aggravating circumstances of homelessness and related challenges to our collective public safety,” Ellenberg added.
“Solving these challenges will take partnership across levels of government, increased investments of resources, improved programming, and a long-term commitment with treatment and not punishment at the core.”
The County also said it will launch a pilot program in partnership with the State to treat those suffering from methamphetamine addiction, and streamline the process of connecting patients to residential treatment programs through the Valley Homeless Care Program.
“I can’t emphasize enough how critical detox beds are to combating major drug and alcohol addiction in Santa Clara County,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “San Jose has the second largest influx of methamphetamine and fentanyl in California.”
Supervisor Chavez said local law enforcement has continuously come across the drugs on the streets which are causing severe problems and oftentimes death. Chavez said increasing detox bed capacity is critical to helping those in need treated in time.
County Executive Jeff Smith mentioned that the new strategies will assist a person start detox for four to five days, then enter treatment for the next 30 days before moving into outpatient recovery.
“It’s a multi-faceted, multiple approach to the problem and we think it will be very successful,” Smith said. “It’s already been ongoing for a while but we’re expanding to meet the need.”
According to the county’s most recent homeless count in 2019, 35% of people experiencing homelessness reported struggling with substance abuse. At Tuesday’s press conference, Dr. Mudit Gilotra of the Valley Homeless Health Care Program said that the actual number is closer to 70%.
“When one of my patients is ready to quit substance use and into sobriety, I know the stakes are life or death and I know the window of opportunity is small and fleeting,” said Dr. Gilotra. “This endeavor we’re setting off on allows us to capture that window of opportunity and get our incredibly vulnerable patients into treatment the very day they tell us that they’re ready.”