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Friday, June 24, 2011

Junkie Etiquette Getting Better: Fewer Discarded Syringes in the Tenderloin

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Cleaner junkies on the streets of San Francisco
  • Cleaner junkies on the streets of San Francisco
Tenderloin junkies are apparently cleaning up their mess. According to a new report, drug users are leaving far fewer syringes on the streets, a welcome relief to the street sweepers who have to clean them up. However, that's not to say that local denizens have been cutting back on smack. 

​Rather, a source who works with that population tells us junkies are becoming neater for a variety of reasons.

According to the new annual report of the North of Market Tenderloin Community Benefits District -- the nonprofit that pays for street sweepers in the neighborhood -- the number of discarded syringes has declined in the last few years.

During 2006 and 2007, street sweepers picked up 3,099 syringes. During 2009 and 2010, they found 1,678, according to the report.

Our source says there are two phenomena, both having to do with city efforts to eliminate shared needles as disease vectosr. Aside from needle exchange programs, city policy allows pharmacies to sell limited numbers of syringes to customers even if they don't have prescriptions. This prevents them from borrowing rigs from friends. 

It turns out that when needles are passed around, they're more likely to wind up on the asphalt. Commerce is messy, our observant homeless outreach worker source explains. When junkies can go to their store for their equipment, they throw garbage in the garbage just like the rest of us.

We're left with a needling question: If junkies aren't junky, what are they?

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Matt Smith


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