Nearly 190 pounds of prescription and over the counter drugs were brought to the Madera County Sheriff's Substation in Oakhurst Oct. 26 by about 70 residents of the Mountain Area. The Drug Take Back Day was part of a national effort held last Saturday at thousands of sites across America.
An additional 62 pounds of drugs were turned in at the sheriff's department in Madera.
It was the seventh event in three years the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its national and community partners have held.
The event gave the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous.
Jean Newman, a member of the sheriff's department all-volunteer Citizens on Patrol unit, said she and Deputy Roy Broomfield were thanked by almost everyone during the four-hour event for providing the service.
"In addition to out-dated prescriptions, some people said they were disposing of prescription drugs after a relative passed-away," Newman said.
Prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. 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, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Americans participating in DEA's six previous Take-Back Days turned in nearly 2.8 million pounds almost 1,409 tons of prescription drugs, most recently at more than 5,800 sites operated by over 4,300 of DEA's law enforcement partners.
DEA is in the process of drafting regulations to implement the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an "ultimate user" (the patient or patient's caregiver, including the owners of animals being treated by veterinarians) of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents' controlled substances in certain instances.
"This is a great event," Newman said. "In addition to providing a location to get rid of unwanted prescription drugs, I was able to talk to Mountain Area residents about the Elder Orphans Program and the Citizen's on Patrol program."
The Elder Orphans Program provides computer-automated phone calls to people who live alone. It is estimated that 10,000 residents of Madera County live alone.
For those who sign-up for the free service, the subscribers will receive a daily pre-recorded message (at the time they request) instructing them to press No. 1 if they are OK, or press No. 2 if they require emergency assistance, at which time the call will be transferred to a 911 operator.
For those interested in the COPS program, call Joann Evans, the sheriff's department community service officer, (559) 642-3201.