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Thousands more San Diegans will have access to substance abuse treatment thanks to a new delivery system approved today by the County Board of Supervisors.

The decision will triple spending on substance use disorders from $54.6 million to $179.6 million over the next three years to address opioid and other substance abuse that often exacerbate homelessness, mental illness and criminal behavior.

The new and comprehensive Substance Use Disorders Treatment Delivery System was unveiled at a March 26 news conference with elected officials, treatment providers, health care experts and federal and local criminal justice leaders.

The enhanced system was specifically designed to serve low-income San Diegans and will address the systemic damage that substance abuse inflicts on people, families and communities. According to San Diego County Medical Examiner data, the number of unintentional drug and alcohol-related deaths more than doubled—they jumped from 268 to 544—from 2000-2016.

The new system, known as the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System, will allow the County to tap into more federal Medicaid funds, significantly enhance services and expand the provider network to increase the number of clients served. California was the first state in the nation to create an organized delivery system for drug treatment services for people who receive Medi-Cal.

During Fiscal Year 2016-17, more than 11,300 people received substance use treatment at County-funded centers. The new system will have the capability to increase the number of clients served by 30 percent or more than 3,300 clients. The new services will be more comprehensive and include case management, withdrawal management, medication assisted treatment, aftercare and recovery residences.

The new system will improve care, increase efficiency and reduce costs, and will ultimately address the collision of the homeless and substance abuse problems.

“This is a game-changing opportunity to address a serious public health and public safety problem in our region,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of Behavioral Health Services for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “An important benefit of this new system will be the ability to provide clients the right services at the right time, based on their medical needs.”

The County drug treatment services align with Live Well San Diego, which aims to improve the health and safety of area residents.

People experiencing a substance abuse problem can call the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240 or 2-1-1 San Diego.

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Job well done folks.