A room at the McAlister Institute- Adult Detox in Lemon Grove on Feb. 10, 2023.
A room at McAlister Institute's Adult Detox in Lemon Grove on Feb. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

For low-income and homeless San Diegans who want to stop using drugs and yet fear painful withdrawal symptoms, quickly getting a substance-use treatment bed is like winning the lottery.

San Diegans with Medi-Cal insurance often must wait for residential treatment – or are never able to access it. Last year, 1,300 people died from overdoses. Even if small fraction of low-income residents wanted help, they likely couldn’t find it.

As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, a limited number of detox beds, a lack of programs that can treat detox patients experiencing other medical issues and burdensome intake processes have all contributed to the access crisis. 

By the numbers: The county now has just 72 detox beds and just over 1,000 longer-term treatment beds for the nearly 1 million local Medi-Cal patients. Just two of those beds are in the city of San Diego. The county and provider expect to bring 10 new detox beds online in coming weeks – and say they are determined to add treatment options. The county has also been increasing access to outpatient options.

Read the whole story.

El Niño Cometh, But What Does It Bringeth

Men walk on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach before tropical storm Hilary makes landfall on Aug. 20, 2023.
Men walk on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach before tropical storm Hilary makes landfall on Aug. 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

“El Niño, once feared and nearly revered, has lost cachet,” writes Voice contributor Rober Krier.

El Niños used to come with big predictions of rain. That was sometimes positive news in our drought-riddled state. But forecasting exactly how much rain an El Niño will bring is uncertain science. Sometimes, it’s enough to damage roads and sometimes it’s really not that much at all. 

“I don’t think the skill is there to make a very good judgment” about what El Niño will bring, said one local forecaster. “It very well could be a big event, but I will not reach into my wallet and put 20 bucks on it.”

Krier gives a great lesson on what an El Niño actually is and also tells us whether we should worry, wonder or just relax about the weather to come.

Read the full story here. 

In Other News 

Correction: Yesterday’s Morning Report misstated the city behavioral health officer’s statement about the share of San Diego Fire-Rescue emergency medical service calls tied to 28 behavioral health patients. Their calls accounted for 2 percent of all EMS calls.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Will Huntsberry. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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