Drugs turned in at more than 5,000 sites

The public was encouraged to discard addictive prescription drugs at nearly 5,200 sites across America April 29, including the sheriff’s office in Oakhurst and Madera. The service was free of charge, no questions asked.

The Oakhurst turnout was the smallest ever with just three community members bringing in their outdated prescription drugs. About 63 pounds of a variety of medications were turned in, mostly in Madera.

Last year 120 pounds of drugs were collected at Oakhurst and another 50 pounds in Madera. One reason for the small Oakhurst turnout is that last year the Oakhurst sheriff’s substation installed a disposal bin where outdated prescriptions can be taken year-long, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m.).

Many of these lethal drugs are often left untended in homes across the country, making it easy to be stolen and either abused or sold by family members and visitors. That’s why the Drug Enforcement Administration and thousands of its state and local law enforcement and community partners held another Prescription Drug Take Back Day last Saturday.

America is experiencing an epidemic of addiction, overdose, and death due to abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioid painkillers. Nearly 6.5 million Americans age 12 and over - 2.4% percent of the population - abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last fall.

That is more than abuse cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine combined. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms.

The majority of prescription drug abusers report that they obtain their drugs from friends and family, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons (more than 730,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 7.1 million pounds - more than 3,500 tons of pills.

Only pills and other solids, like patches, were allowed to be brought to the collection sites - liquids or needles were not accepted.

Staff Report