Cupertino Is Center For National Drug Program
By Hugh Biggar
CUPERTINO – Public officials gathered to open the new headquarters of a drug treatment center in Cupertino on Sept. 12, in an event that also drew attention to the area’s growing substance abuse problems.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former federal “drug czar,” Congressman Mike Honda and Mayor Patrick Kwok were among the officials gathered to launch the new headquarters of the CRC Health Group on Stevens Creek Boulevard.
“Through substance treatment we address a profound crisis in America, reduce the associated crime … and return [rehabilitated] chronic addicts to society,” McCaffrey said at the ceremony.
In Cupertino, the most recent drug problem centers on methamphetamine; a recent survey by the National Association of Counties lists the substance as the country’s biggest drug problem.
“There has been a switch from cocaine to methamphetamine,” John Hirokawa, a captain with the sheriff’s office Westside Substation, said.
“It’s been getting worse over the last five years.”
Westside Substation police records from this year show roughly one methamphetamine report a week since January. The incidents include individuals running down the street in a disoriented state and riding a bike at night without a headlight. Sheriff’s officers also discovered a drug laboratory in Cupertino in July.
Methamphetamine is particularly popular because it is easy to make and can be sold cheaply.
“It only requires a basic understanding of chemistry,” Hirokawa said, noting a key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, can be found in readily available cold medicines. In fact, in one police report from May, sheriff’s officers stopped a man for a vehicle violation and discovered 432 decongestants belonging to a passenger. A search of the passenger’s apartment unearthed two plastic bags containing methamphetamine.
“It’s been getting worse,” he said of the drug’s popularity in Cupertino. “Users are across the board in age range and background.”
Although cheap to manufacture and purchase, methamphetamine does have its costs. Among users the drug causes hyperactivity, severe weight loss and “meth mouth”-decayed and missing teeth. It also has social costs.
“It’s why we have been seeing an increase in property crimes,” Hirokawa said of the rash of robberies in Cupertino this year. In one police report from March, for instance, sheriff’s officers stopped a vehicle for defective brake lights and discovered methamphetamine as well as likely burglary equipment-black gloves, several pry bars, two-way radios, dark clothing and a filed-down screwdriver.
“Most of the break-ins are from burglars trying to get money for drug use,” Hirokawa said.
The CRC Health Group hopes its programs will help reverse that trend. In addition to Cupertino, which was selected as the new headquarters because of its Silicon Valley location, the organization has facilities in 21 states providing substance treatment.
Cupertino Is Center For National Drug Program”Drug abuse has a wide reach,” Honda said at the Sept. 12 event, “CRC’s work helps the entire community.”