San Francisco addicts are kept ‘in a state of bondage’ by syringe exchange programs, former drug user says

SAN FRANCISCO – Providing drug users with syringes and pipes for public health purposes keeps addicts “in a state of bondage,” a dealer-turned-activist told Fox News.

The city has established more than 20 harm reduction centers — sites that provide a variety of services including overdose prevention education, distribution of the overdose reversal drug naloxone and safe-use drug supplies such as syringes, tinfoil, and pipes. The goal is to reduce overdoses and the spread of disease, like hepatitis.

“They should restart rethinking their policies here because this harm reduction site, it just doesn’t work,” Ricci Wynne, a drug abstinence advocate and former drug dealer, told Fox News. The homeless in San Francisco “don’t need more syringes, they don’t need crack pipes, they don’t need tinfoil.”

Ricci Wynne, a former convict charged with cocaine trafficking, stands in front of one of San Francisco’s harm reduction centers.
(Fox News Digital / Jon Michael Raasch)

“They need abstinence-based treatment, they need to get clean, they need help to get back on the road to recovery,” Wynne continued.

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The San Francisco Health Commission passed a resolution in September 2000 adopting a harm reduction policy for substance abuse in the city intending to reduce the physical, social, emotional and economic harms associated with drug use, according to the city’s health department.

“Harm reduction methods are free of judgment and directly involve clients in setting their own health goals,” according to the department.

Drug dealers and drug users huddle together across the street from the San Francisco Federal Building.
(Fox News Digital / Jon Michael Raasch)

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Wynne called the approach a “failed model” and compared harm reduction to putting a bucket under a leaky roof. He said it’s a temporary solution that does not fix the root cause of addiction.

“It basically allows these addicts to keep living in a state of bondage,” he said. “It’s a lawlessness type of situation where there’s no consequences for their actions, and they just continue to be able to live in this way.”

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Tents line the sidewalk of a San Francisco street.
(Fox news Digital / Jon Michael Raasch)

There were 556 accidental overdose deaths in San Francisco between January 2022 and November 2022, according to city data. More than 400 were from fentanyl.

Research is limited in how effective harm reduction services are in preventing overdoses, though the National Institutes of Health recently announced upcoming studies.

“Research is needed toward identifying ways to enhance access to harm reduction services as well as to measure their effectiveness,” the NIH website states.

One city-funded initiative in 2021 gave out 50,000 doses of naloxone, resulting in about 4,300 reversed overdoses, the New York Times reported.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the board of supervisors have voiced support for safe consumption sites — locations where users can take drugs under supervision, a local Fox affiliate reported last month. The city has been researching the notion for years.

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“I’m really against these sites because you just have to ask yourself the question, what happens when the funding for these safe consumption sites runs out?” Wynne said. “What happens is these people still get put out on the streets, but with no treatment and no type of recovery-based approach.”

“So they basically are going to stay in this vicious cycle of using,” he continued.

To watch Wynne’s full interview on harm reduction centers, click here.