Santa Clara County and San Jose elected officials joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra at San Jose City Hall on Monday to discuss ongoing efforts to limit prescription drug addictions ahead of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
The day, scheduled for April 28, will highlight the importance of safe use and safe disposal of prescription drugs, Becerra said.
Becerra, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith and San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia gathered for a news conference this morning to raise awareness of the cause before the day comes.
"Combating drug abuse is not something you do by yourself," Becerra said.
He said law enforcement, government leaders and community members have to become engaged to keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands because it is not just up to police to handle those who steal drugs for their own use.
"We cannot arrest our way out of this crisis," Becerra said.
The state attorney general mentioned a few efforts that those with California's Department of Justice are making to limit prescription drug addictions, including the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES.
The CURES database, which can show specific information on when a drug has been dispensed and to who, will be mandatory for statewide use by public health, regulatory oversight agencies and law enforcement by Oct. 2, according to the attorney general's office.
Becerra said the database is so vital because even prescription drugs can be deadly in the wrong hands. He used examples of children who accidentally swallow pills or medication.
Liccardo gave statistics about prescription drugs to bring the point home. According to a study that he referenced, 75 percent of opioid misuse happens when someone gets their hands on a prescription that was not written for them and 90 percent of all addictions start in adolescence.
Although Garcia said San Jose has not seen a specific increase in opioid addictions, which has been an ongoing national issue, it does not mean that local and state leaders should not take action now.
Yeager, who has been working on getting monitored mailbox-like drop boxes for prescription medicine since 2008, is thrilled that there are now 57 drop-off kiosks for any unwanted or unused prescriptions around the county. He said the county aims to have 100 by the end of the year.
The drop boxes originally began with 13 locations at health clinics and the sheriff's office but has expanded to both kiosks and mail-in services at those facilities as well as police departments, pharmacies and other locations in the city of San Jose, Yeager said.
Yeager said the elected officials came together today to publicize the efforts and to make the disposal boxes and mail-in services around the county a commonly understood fixture before the nation dedicates a day to awareness of the issues surrounding the drugs.
"The idea is to get the message out not just April 28, but during the rest of the year," Yeager said.