Local agencies to take back drugs

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brewton and East Brewton police are joining law enforcement agencies across the country in an effort to rid homes of unused medications.

Beginning at 10 a.m. April 30, both departments will be accepting medications from area residents. The collections will continue until 2 p.m. at each department’s respective locations. Brewton Police Department is located at on the north side of Brewton City Hall on Douglas Avenue. East Brewton Police Department is located on the south side of the main entrance of East Brewton City Hall on Forrest Avenue.

Officer Clemente Brooks with the East Brewton Police Department said the event is focused on ridding medicine cabinets in the community of potentially harmful medications that are no longer used in the home.

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“This is giving the public an opportunity to get rid of any kind of medication in their homes that isn’t being used,” Brooks said. “All medications including prescription and over the counter medications will be accepted.”

Lt. Bryan Davis with Brewton Police Department said the effort is focused on removing potentially dangerous controlled substances from the home.

“We will be ready to take any kind of medications during the collection time,” Davis said. “Any expired, unused or unwanted controlled substances in our homes are a potential source of supply that fuel this abuse and are an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.”

Brooks said the collection of the unused medications will help to prevent possible abuse or accidental ingestion in the community.

“This will give people a chance to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous drugs,” Brooks said. “Things left in medicine cabinets or other places in the home can be picked up by anyone including children. We want our residents to be safe from that kind of situation.”

The Take Back Drugs initiative is in its second year nationwide. Brewton Police Department collected a large amount of medications in 2010 during the first collection in the area. The East Brewton Police Department is joining this initiative for the 2011 collection cycle.

“This is something we intend to do every year,” Brooks said. “We didn’t participate last year, but we see the need for this kind of collection and want to do what we can to keep our citizens safe.”

Last September, Americans turned in 242,000 pounds of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners.

According to DEA statistics rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after last fall’s event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” 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. DEA has begun drafting regulations to implement the Act.

More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Each day, approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

Dr. Tammy Peacock, associate commissioner for the ADMH’s Division of Mental Illness & Substance Abuse Services, said the department is encouraging public participation in the initiative.

“On April 30th, Alabamians will be provided with an environmental-friendly way to dispose of their unused or expired medications,” Peacock said. “ADMH will actively promote this event and encourage community involvement. We want to take advantage of this opportunity to rid medicine cabinets of unused or expired medication and to educate the public about prescription drug abuse.”

If anyone has questions about this event contact East Brewton Police Officer Clemente Brooks at (251) 867-4864 or Bryan Davis with the Brewton Police Department at 867-3212.

Additional details on other collection sites throughout the state can be found at the DEA Website at www.dea.gov.