Several local law enforcement agencies and prevention advocates from Next Step Community Solutions’ coalitions are gearing up for the semi-annual DEA Take Back event to be held October 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at various locations across East Texas.
“This event is the easiest and safest way to dispose of unwanted and unused medications, and in turn makes our communities safer and healthier,” said Joseph Byrum, director of prevention programs at Next Step Community Solutions. “More than 4,000 pounds of prescriptions have been collected at these events in the last few years. That’s more than 1 million pills that won’t end up in the wrong hands. We are helping to prevent opioid addiction from ever starting.”
The Tyler Police Department is holding an event at the Walgreens at 110 S SW Loop 323. Other events will be held at Walmart in Kilgore, Gilmer Civic Center in Gilmer, Walgreens in Marshall, Brookshire’s in Jefferson, the Hallsville Police Department, and Pittsburg Police Department. Other law enforcement agencies are promoting their prescription drug disposal boxes that are available year-round. For a list of locations, visit easttexasrx.com.
Residents are encouraged to bring their unused or expired prescription drugs (other than needles or aerosols) to one of these events no questions asked, because properly disposing of medications not only save lives, but also protects the environment. If unused prescription drugs are thrown in the trash, they can be retrieved and illegally sold or abused. If they’re flushed, they can contaminate the water supply. The DEA recommends take-back programs as the best way to dispose of old drugs.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than half of those over age 12 who abuse prescription drugs said they got them from friends and family, sometimes taking them from an unattended medicine cabinet.
“Each year over 2 million prescriptions are written and filled in East Texas. That averages to nearly two prescriptions for every single East Texan. (RNA 2021),” said Mindy Robertson, program director of prevention for Region 4 Prevention Resource Center for the East Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ETCADA). “Two-thirds of teens who misused pain relievers in the past year say that they got them from family, friends, and their medicine cabinets. Teens have reported that prescription medicines are free and easy to find in parents’ and especially grandparents’ medicine cabinets. (NIDA 2021).”
Abuse of prescription drugs in this region dropped more than 30% from 2016 to 2018, and another 30% from 2018 to 2020, according to the Texas School Survey, an anonymous Texas A&M survey of 7-12th grade students across the state of Texas.
To learn more about Next Step Community Solutions visit their website, nextstepcs.org.
Next Step Community Solutions is a Texas-based nonprofit that was founded in 1984. We serve school-aged youth and their communities through mental health services and substance misuse prevention and education. Our substance abuse coalitions cover nine counties, and our licensed counselors serve 70+ school campuses and juvenile probation departments at no charge to the student. Please contact us at nextstepcs.org to learn more about all we can offer.Safel