On Saturday, October 26, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Grand Junction Police Department in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Palisade Police Department, and the Fruita Police Department will be participating in the bi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
This event seeks to prevent increased pill abuse and theft. On this day, local law enforcement and the DEA will be collecting potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. The locations for the upcoming Drug Take Back event, are: The Grand Junction Police Department (6th St. and Ute Ave.), Fruita Police Department (157 S. Mesa St.), Palisade Town Hall (175 E. Third St.), and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (215 Rice St.). These flyers have more information, including a list of items which cannot be accepted.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. According to the DEA, many Americans are not aware that medicines in their home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. People often choose to flush them down the toilet or throwing them away in the trash, both of which are potential safety and health hazards.
As a reminder, the Mesa County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility will take: needles and sharps, over-the-counter medications, pressurized or aerosol and mercury containing items Thursdays through Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is free of charge to Mesa County residents. However, they are NOT able to accept controlled substances (narcotics), chemotherapy or radio-active substances or oxygen tanks. The Mesa County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility can be reached directly at (970) 257-9336 or (970) 256-9543. You can also visit their website at: http://www.mesacounty.us/swm/template.aspx?id=12478.
Talk about a big response! Last week we put a call out for everyone in Mesa County to drop off their unused, expired, and otherwise unwanted prescription drugs during the first ever National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Not only did the community respond to this new program, you and your neighbors responded in a big way. More than two hundred pounds of prescription drugs will now be disposed of in a safe way and won’t be lying around in medicine cabinets where children or drug abusers can get their hands on them, or flushed down the toilet where they would enter our water systems. Just at the Police Department alone we collected 138 pounds of that grand total.
It was interesting to watch and listen to the people who came by to drop off their unwanted medications at the Police Department. For the four hours we were open for collections we had a fairly steady stream of folks coming by, often with grocery bags full of prescriptions to get rid of. For the most part, they were some of our more seasoned residents, but not all. What struck me the most was that even though this was supposed to be an anonymous, no questions asked way for people to clean out their medicine cabinets, most of the people who came by seemed to want to give us at least some information. Several of the people appeared a bit surprised when we didn’t ask for their names or what kinds of medication they were dropping off. “That’s it?” was a common phrase that morning when they handed the officer their bag and he simply said “Thank you.”
I can’t help but imagine what stories there are behind each and every one of those who came by. I chuckled when one of the ladies, who dropped of a significantly sized bag of medications, walked up to the counter, smiled, and said “Hello, just so you know I’m not a drug dealer.” The officer chuckled too, and reassured her he didn’t think she was. The lady then began to share a story about her husband who had recently passed and how he had to take a lot of medications during the end of his life. She didn’t go into a lot of detail, but you could tell she had a lot of memories to share.
There were other folks like her, and although we weren’t able to sit and talk with each and every one, we were glad we could at least provide a small service for them. I heard several people say, “I’ve had these around for years and just didn’t know what to do with them.” Nearly everybody said “thanks for doing this, it’s a great service.” We too say thank you. Thanks for taking the extra step and the time out of your day to do something that will help keep these old medications out of the wrong hands.