Santa Clarita residents have the opportunity to help prevent prescription-drug abuse among teens and adults alike by turning in their unused or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal at Henry Mayo Hospital on Saturday.
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In partnership with the Action Family Foundation and KHTS AM-1220, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital will serve as Santa Clarita’s drop-off location for the drug take-back event, which is being held at thousands of locations across the country by the Drug Enforcement Administration in honor of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, according to a hospital news release.
“We’re at epidemic levels when it comes to substance abuse, especially prescription pills, and we have got to get these pills out of homes and off the streets,” said Cary Quashen, founder and CEO of Action Family Counseling drug and alcohol rehab centers and the non-profit Action Family Foundation.
“Those pills are dangerous and deadly, and we’re on a mission to do our part here in Santa Clarita to save our kids,” said Quashen, who’s also the executive director for Henry Mayo’s Behavioral Health Unit.
Santa Clarita residents are encouraged to check their medicine cabinets for unused or expired prescription pills and bring them to the hospital, where they can anonymously dispose of them for free, with no questions asked, event officials said.
Recent studies show that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, according to the news release.
“One of the major ways young people are getting them is right out of medicine cabinets,” Quashen said. “What we hear all the time is, ‘My kid won’t,’ and maybe not, but what about their friends? You never know who is going to walk into your house.”
Experimenting with prescription drugs can also be directly linked to heroin use later on, said Krissy McAfee, who serves on the board of the Action Family Foundation. She cited research indicating 77 percent of heroin users started with prescription drugs.
This link is due to the fact that the same opiate high people seek from prescription pills can be obtained by using heroin, which is much cheaper and easier to obtain, Quashen said in an earlier interview, further contributing to the importance of keeping prescription pills out of the wrong hands.
In addition to preventing drug misuse, the event increases public awareness and addresses vital public safety and health issues, including the recent discovery that traditional methods of drug disposal– like flushing pills down the toilet, or even throwing them in the trash– pose potential hazards, event officials said.
Over the past few years, the Environmental Protection Agency has gotten involved in the disposal of prescription drugs, finding that flushing pills down the toilet can pollute the water supply, said Gerald Subar, pharmacy director at Henry Mayo Hospital. As a result, the practice is no longer recommended.
Last year’s event resulted in 324 tons, or about 647,000 pounds, of prescription drugs being turned in at more than 4,114 sites across the country, and this year’s event is expected to bring in similar results with 5,600 sites nationwide, according to the news release.
Since the DEA held their first drug take-back event in 2010, more than 3.4 million pounds of pills have been collected, McAfee said.
“Events like these are what the Action Family Foundation is all about,” said Jeri Seratti-Goldman, the foundation’s president. “We want to support families any way we can in the fight against illegal drug use, and getting rid of unused or expired prescriptions can help make sure they don’t get into the wrongs hands.”
Santa Clarita residents can bring their pills and patches for disposal to Henry Mayo Hospital, located at 23845 McBean Parkway, outside the front main entrance door on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station, located at 23740 W. Magic Mountain Parkway, is also serving as a drop-off location during the same hours.
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