SAN DIEGO, Calif. - San Diegans are concerned about the opioid epidemic gripping the country. Law enforcement and other officials joined together to study what neighbors do with unused medications.
In all, 3,280 people took the survey. The key findings:
6/10 people used a proper disposal method, like the National Drug Take Back Day.
45% did not dispose of their pills properly.
45% store their expired prescriptions in their home.
The last finding worried all officials at the press conference Wednesday. "Those things that look innocent that are in a small prescription bottle that the doctor passes out. Those are what causes the majority of the deaths," San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said last year in San Diego, the majority of accidental deaths were caused by prescription drug overdoses.
Mother Virginia Tait knew long before this study how lethal prescription drugs can be. She lost her son, Joseph, when he was 22-years-old, in 2007.
"No one is immune from this, I personally had prescription medication in my medicine cabinet and not until months after Joseph passed away did I realize they were empty," she said. He was one semester away from graduating from San Diego State University with an Accounting Degree.
Now she holds onto his memories, "He was just so happy... He'd call me mommy mommies, so you know that was the little closeness we had."
Saying all he has left is her voice.
"When you buy a baby book, there's a page in there for a birth certificate but there's not a page for a death certificate because that's not nature," Virginia said she hopes everyone heeds her warning to get rid of unused pills in their homes to protect their friends and family.
National Drug Take Back Day is April 28th, here are the locations in San Diego where you can drop off your unused prescriptions.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said a fleet of Prescription Drop Boxes went out to each station, sub station and detention center back in 2010 to fight the epidemic and so far they've seen huge success. You can drop off unused prescriptions weekdays 8am-5pm.
The study reflected that sentiment in the community, showing not only would neighbors like to dispose of their unused drugs at their pharmacy (if the option was available), they would even pay for the safe disposal of their medications.