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Inside San Francisco’s ‘poison pipeline’ – ground zero of California’s deadly fentanyl epidemic

Rozina Sabur | The Telegraph

Rizzy Spoer began using drugs aged 12. Growing up in San Francisco’s Bay Area, she enjoyed experimenting with as many illicit substances as she could. It got to a point, she said, where she was “probably going to die”.

In her experience, her story isn’t “uncommon”. Now aged 34, she has lost more than 30 friends to drugs in recent years. A grim figure, but perhaps unsurprising in the context of California’s drug epidemic. One in five deaths of 15- to 24-year-olds in the state is now drug-related.

The culprit is fentanyl: a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, more addictive and lethal in even small doses. Nowhere is the scale of the crisis more visible than in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighbourhood, where open-air drug markets form the city’s so-called “poison pipeline”.

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