Addison Saenz

Addison Saenz, Regional Director Institute for Public Strategies

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative began in 2010 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to address a vital public health and safety issue. The aim of this program is to provide safe and secure locations nationwide where anyone can drop off unwanted medications without questions asked.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Clearing out unwanted medicines is one way to prevent misuse and/or abuse.

In 2016, the same survey found that more than 152,000 American adolescents had Opioid Use Disorder.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Opioid Use Disorder occurs when someone experiences clinically significant impairment caused by the recurrent use of pain relievers, including health problems, physical withdrawal, persistent or increasing use and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home.

Local residents are concerned about prescription drug abuse. Nearly 60 percent surveyed felt that the misuse of narcotic pain medication, such as Oxycontin or Vicodin, was a major problem in the community. These figures are on par with the response rates of San Bernardino County residents as a whole, with 57.3 percent of respondents surveyed feeling that the misuse of narcotic pain medication was a major problem in their community.

According to community organizers who work with local coalitions, community members also have a lot to say on the subject.

“It’s devastating to see someone lose a battle to addiction,” said Sheila Whitehead, a member of the Common Vision Coalition of Redlands. “It is great that the city is taking preventative measures in limiting access to medications that are expired and that are no longer being used.”

To get ahead of the issue, the Redlands Police Department launched its own pharmaceutical collection site in 2011, giving residents a convenient place to safely dispose of unneeded prescription and over-the-counter medication all year long. The secure pharmaceutical collection site is at the Redlands Police Annex at 30 Cajon St., Redlands, where residents may safely dispose of unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medication with no questions asked between 4:30 and 6 p.m. Mondays. The collected medication is disposed of daily and the medication is destroyed in a manner required by law.

This year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Highland Police Department, 26985 East Base Line, and other locations throughout the county.

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