Program rounds up Rx drugs at Fort Sill
October 31, 2013
By Ben Sherman
FORT SILL, Okla. -- The Army Substance Abuse Program at Fort Sill sponsored the fall Drug Take Back event Oct. 24, 2013, at the Main Exchange and the commissary.
More than 600 pounds of expired and no longer needed prescription medications were collected as Soldiers, their family members, retirees and civilian government workers dropped off bags full of drugs.
The drug take back campaign was a nationwide event, and ASAP worked with Fort Sill civilian and military police, Lawton and Comanche County law enforcement and the Oklahoma office of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"Our national drive is to make sure that our Soldiers, their family members, retirees and government service civilians have a safe place to dispose of these medications. It helps us keep it out of the water system and the landfills, which are not the proper places to dispose of unwanted medications," said Stephanie Armel, risk reduction coordinator for ASAP.
Reggie Fisher, ASAP social worker, was one of those who staffed the drug drop off table in the food court of the Main PX. He said the turnout for the take back had been good during the time he had been there.
"We had some retirees who brought in whole boxes of medicines they had been saving. Many people had been waiting since the spring for us to have this event. Last year we had a good turnout during the lunch hour and we expect it will pick up around noon today," Fisher said.
Darla Pereira, a retired Army nurse who served her last few years at Fort Sill, said she and her husband, retired Lt. Col. John Pereira, had accumulated a lot of medication over time.
"When we cleaned out our medicine cabinet recently I found medications that were old, old, old. And, I said we don't need this stuff," she said. "As a retired nurse I can see that even though we don't have kids at home now, if we have children visiting we have to worry about that. There are a lot of people breaking into houses and stealing medicines and other stuff, so we got rid of them."
Each take back location always has a member of law enforcement on hand to supervise the drug drop offs, so that medications are handled properly and not diverted for other purposes.
"Some stuff that gets put in these boxes could go for a lot of money out on the streets if they got in the wrong hands," said Sgt. Allen Freeman, 40th Military Police Detachment. "We make sure that everything is done right and that nobody tries to put the wrong type of drugs in the take back boxes, since this is specifically to collect prescription drugs. We don't want anybody to put illegal narcotics in there."
Armel added that one of the biggest problems in the Lawton - Fort Sill area is the misuse or abuse of prescription medications.
"We have such a huge retirement community in this area and there is the danger of them taking out of date medications or even the wrong medications because they can potentially get them confused with their other drugs when they have so many sitting around. In addition, if there are teenagers in the home, they can get their hands on these drugs and that can cause severe problems. So it is best for people to get rid of medications they no longer need," Armel said.