Do Your Part to Help Curb an Epidemic

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On Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local law enforcement agencies will be working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to safely and legally get rid of your unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs. The Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Palisade Police Department, and the Fruita Police Department all will be participating in the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

One of the main reasons local law enforcement is participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is because of the major rise in prescription drug abuse. By participating in this event you can save lives by helping decrease the amount of prescription drugs that fall into the wrong hands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2008 more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and 20,044 of those deaths were due to prescription medications. Of those, 14,800 were from narcotic painkillers. That amount is nearly four times higher than it was a decade ago.   In fact, more people die in America a year from prescription drug abuse than cocaine and heroin combined. And, it’s sometimes harder to find prescription drugs being used illegally because it can be harder to determine if they are in fact being abused.

“Prescription overdoses are an epidemic in the U.S.,” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Most people who die from prescription drug overdose are taking someone else’s medicines, he says. “Medicines that were left in the medicine cabinet. Medicines that were given to a friend or a relative. Maybe innocently, maybe maliciously.”

Grand Junction isn’t immune to these problems.  The Western Colorado Drug Task Force, which the Grand Junction Police Department is a part of, comes across people abusing prescription drugs just as often as they do illegal drugs.  And, although prescription drug abuse is most often seen in younger generations, we do come across older people abusing them too.   

Common Prescription Drugs Abused include:

  • Pain Killers ( Examples: OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin)
  • Anti Depressants (Examples: Xanax, Klonopen)
  • Muscle Relaxers

Recently area school resource officers have also seen a spike in the number of cases of younger people abusing over-the-counter cold medications, commonly called Triple C’s and Robo-ing, too.

Perhaps what’s even more alarming is that the Drug Task Force has been noticing poly-drug use, which means using more than one drug at a time.  Prescription drugs, illegal drugs, even alcohol and caffeine, are often used together in various combinations.  Poly-drug use can be extremely dangerous because people do it to counteract the different effects of the drugs they are taking, or to enhance the high they get from them.  However, the combinations can be extremely destructive to your body and sometimes even make your heart stop beating.

People often think that prescription medication can’t be bad for you because a doctor has prescribed it, but when people are abusing the drugs they aren’t being used as prescribed, and that’s where the danger is. If you are someone who has been prescribed medication, you need to do your best to prevent abusers from getting their hands on it. Abusers are willing to steal from family and friends, even go through the trash to find medicine. Kids will go through their parents’ medicine cabinets, or go to friends houses and go through their medicine cabinets. You need to do everything possible deny access to your medication.

How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse:

  • Lock your medicine cabinets
  • Sit down and talk to your kids about the dangers of prescription drug abuse
  • Get involved in the lives of your loved ones
  • Properly get rid of unused or expired medications by taking advantage of Prescription Drug Take Back Days

For the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28, there will be four locations for the public to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription drugs in Mesa County. Those locations are:

• Grand Junction Police Department (625 Ute Ave.)
• Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (215 Rice St.)
• Fruita Community Center (324 N Coulson St.)
• Palisade Police Department (175 E 3rd St.)

Help make our wonderful community a safer place.

Additional information can be found on the following websites:

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