More than 50 Mountain Area residents turned in an estimated 80 pounds of medication at the Madera County Sheriff's Oakhurst office on Liberty Drive last Saturday. The "Take Back Drug Program" was the first such event held in Oakhurst with the intent of giving citizens the opportunity to safely dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications.
Deputy Michael Gordon oversaw the operation with assistance from Citizen on Patrol members Jean Newman and John and Suzette Pelowski.
"It's was steady from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.," said Gordon. "People have brought in a combination of over the county and prescription drugs, many of which were outdated."
John Vodwell of Oakhurst said the event provided a good way to get rid of the 12 to 15 expired prescriptions he had.
"Some were up to six years old and I didn't want to just throw them in the trash," Vodwell said.
According to Madera County sheriff John Anderson, the collection, the first one ever held in Oakhurst, was in response to an increase in drug abuse among children, including prescription medication.
Anderson believes this Take Back program is a positive step toward public awareness in our county's effort to combat drug abuse among our children.
"The goal was to give parents, and all residents, a place where they can properly dispose unused, unwanted, or expired medications safely," Deputy Gordon said.
Sheriff Anderson considered the event an important community service for citizens who recognize the need for destroying drugs in a safe, secure and non-hazardous manner.
The program is anonymous and all efforts were made to protect the anonymity of individuals disposing of medications. No questions or requests for identification were made.
Participants were asked to remove the various medications from its container and deposit them directly into one of two disposal boxes.
All participants retained possession of their own medication during the surrender process. Law enforcement personnel would not touch or come in contact with any of the medications.
Syringes were not accepted due to potential hazard posed by blood-borne pathogens.