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One City, Under the Syringe

Uncovering the harsh realities—and the human face—of San Francisco’s injection drug epidemic. A special report.

Heaven and hell in a $10 bag: a tenth of a gram of Mexican black tar heroin, purchased by a user across the street from the San Francisco Public Library.  

This month, San Francisco magazine presents a special report on the private tragedies and public toll of our injection drug epidemic. Here are all the stories.

Dope Sick: What Can a City Like San Francisco Do About Its Injection-Drug Problem?
San Francisco is enduring its greatest public health crisis since the height of AIDS. Will we rise to the challenge, or turn away in revulsion? —By Gary Kamiya 

The Needle and the Damage Done
Portraits of five current and former injection drug users. —By Gary Kamiya

The Three Percent Conundrum: Are 22,500 People in San Francisco Really Using Injection Drugs?
Why the city's estimates aren't as reliable as they seem. —By Lindsey J. Smith

Black Death: Why SF's Street Heroin May Soon Become Even More Dangerous
From Mexican black tar heroin to “Colombian mimic”: how a Latin American peace treaty could mean more overdose fatalities in San Francisco. —Gary Kamiya

A Safe Place to Shoot Up
San Francisco is considering opening the United States’ first legal space for people to inject drugs. Can the city pass the compassion test again? —By Lindsey J. Smith

Tales from the Frontline
Police officers, surgeons, firefighters, BART cleanup workers, and others talk about the often-harrowing realities of dealing with an epidemic. —Gary Kamiya, Ayah Mouhktar, Alex Orlando, Ahalya Srikant, Jordan Winters, Gwendolyn Wu, and Casey O'Brien

How to Get a City off Drugs
The ABCs of fighting San Francisco’s injection drug crisis. —Gary Kamiya and Ahalya Srikant

The Miracle Drug That Has Pulled Thousands of Overdose Victims Back from the Brink
“It really is the most incredible drug on the planet.” —Lindsey J. Smith

Stalemate: Why the SFPD Turns a Blind Eye to Street Dealers
S.F. cops haven’t entirely given up on trying to get heroin dealers off the streets, but they know it’s a war they can’t win. —Chris Roberts

What You Can Personally Do to Fight the Injection-Drug Epidemic 
Four ways that regular citizens can help people struggling to overcome their dependence. —Gary Kamiya, Casey O’Brien, Alex Orlando, and Ahalya Srikant


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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