SAN DIEGO (Oct. 17, 2014)—The Safe Homes Coalition was recently recognized by the state of California for its successful efforts to inform the public about the proper use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs. The group, comprised of Millennium Health; Mental Health Systems; and other partners, focused on prescription drug thefts during real estate open houses. California State Senator Joel Anderson will commemorate the organization’s success with a proclamation during Red Ribbon Week – the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the country.
In the last few months, Safe Homes Coalition’s accomplishments included:
- The distribution of more than 10,000 bags that San Diego homeowners used to secure prescription medications prior to their open houses.
- Sharing information about safe disposal of unused prescription medications, including the locations of the more than 25 drug take-back centers located throughout San Diego County.
- Real estate professional education about the need to add “secure medications” to their home-staging checklist as an industry best practice.
- Producing and releasing a public service announcement that featured San Diego County Sherriff Bill Gore; San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis; and Hope2gether Foundation founders Sherrie and Aaron Rubin; which appeared online, in community presentations and in local and regional media outlets.
“We are overwhelmed with the amount of support throughout the state of California for the Safe Homes Coalition’s mission,” said Greg Stein, coalition co-chair and senior director of strategic and community affairs for Millennium Health. “Addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is not only a top priority for public health, its critical for building strong communities and allows those who suffer from substance abuse disorders to lead healthier, more productive lives.”
The San Diego region’s 12,000-plus REALTORS® played a key role in the coalition’s multi-faceted education and prevention campaign. Millennium Health, as well as nonprofit Mental Health Systems, its North Inland Community Prevention Program, Oakwood Escrow, nonprofit Hope2Gether Foundation, the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS®, and the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force are the Coalition’s founding members.
“Identifying solutions to prescription drug abuse has been a top priority for our Senate Public Safety Committee. As the leading cause of unintentional deaths in San Diego County, it’s a clear threat to our communities,” said Senator Anderson. “That’s why it’s important to recognize Millennium Health, the San Diego Association of REALTORS®, Mental Health Systems and the entire Safe Homes Coalition for their exemplary work to protect children and save lives.”
Prescription drug abuse continues to take a toll in San Diego County, as the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force reported last year. According to the task force, deaths from prescription drug overdoses have increased sharply over the last five years, as have prescription drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments. Especially alarming was the effect of the epidemic on youth with nearly 20 percent of 11th-graders in San Diego County reporting that they had experimented with prescription drugs. Real estate open houses remain a source of those prescription drugs.
REALTOR® Patty Keck of Sea Coast Exclusive Properties expressed her appreciation for the Coalition’s work. “A number of local REALTORS® were made aware of a person coming into broker open houses on the pretense of looking to purchase a home. In reality, he was looking for drugs to steal,” Keck said. “I caught him looking in medicine cabinets at a staged but vacant property and contacted the police. I really appreciate all the efforts the coalition is making to educate both REALTORS® and their clients regarding pharmaceutical drug abuse and how to prevent it.”
About the Safe Homes Coalition
The Safe Homes Coalition is a project initiated by Mental Health Systems North Inland County Prevention Program and Millennium Health (formerly Millennium Laboratories), with support from numerous community partners. The mission of the Safe Homes Coalition is to improve communities by promoting the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription medications. We achieve that mission through education, advocacy, outreach and continuous collaboration. To view the Safe Homes Coalition’s PSA go to: http://bit.ly/safehomesPSA. The coalition’s Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/safehomescoalition. For more information, call (858) 391-9303.