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Bay Area Prescription Drug Abuse Summit

United States Attorney Melinda Haag introduces the panel

On May 7, 2014, United States Attorney Melinda Haag, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), California State Superintendent of Education Tom Torlakson, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, together with the California Department of Justice, Marin County District Attorney Edward Berberian, San Francisco City and County District Attorney George Gascon, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark A. Peterson, The University of California San Francisco, and The Partnership at, hosted the Bay Area Prescription Drug Abuse Summit.

The Summit was held at Futures Without Violence in the Presidio of San Francisco.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high; almost twice as many Americans (6.8 million) currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, prescription drug/painkiller abuse is reaching crisis proportions. This summit was organized as an effort to bring together senior policymakers, medical professionals, educators, local, state and federal law enforcement and the community to seek solutions to this problem and to raise awareness of the issue. In particular, there was an emphasis on the number of middle school, high school, and college students, as well as young adults, that are being lost to prescription pain medication addiction.

Tragically, many slip into heroin use as a cheaper and more readily available alternative. Too many parents and young adults are unaware of how quickly addiction happens with these powerful drugs and the prevalence of these drugs in the community.

DEA, HIDTA and law enforcement have seen a significant uptick in heroin in the Bay Area – directly attributable to the burgeoning prescription drug addiction problem. Rehab directors in Marin and the East Bay report more and more teens in their programs addicted to pain killers and heroin – young people from excellent schools that should be heading off to college – now with their futures foreclosed. Too many young people are taking prescription drugs believing them to be “safe” because they are prescribed by a doctor.

Attorney General Eric Holder issued a recent statement on the prevalence of these drugs in our communities, as well as the impact of heroin overdoses that are on the rise across the United States. He has made tackling this issue a priority for the Department of Justice.  The White House recently hosted a major event addressing the growing misuse of prescription painkillers and the rise in heroin use in the United States.

The program highlighted speakers, experts and senior policymakers from a variety of fields including law enforcement, the medical community and education in order to promote an ongoing senior level discussion across agencies and industries. The Summit was joined by the Medical Board of California, Pharmacy Board of California, senior personnel from federal agencies including Justice and DEA, the California Attorney General’s Office, senior management of pharmaceutical companies, among others.

Photos from the Summit

Additional Information

Speaker Presentations in Order of Appearance




Updated July 2, 2018

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