By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 27, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 27, 2013) -- Fort Rucker joined the fight and helped the Drug Enforcement Administration collect almost 750,000 pounds of unused prescription medication during "take-back" events across the nation.
In an effort to fight against prescription drug addiction and abuse, the DEA's fifth National Drug Take-Back Day in April, helped keep unused prescriptions drugs out of reach of those that might abuse them and was deemed an overall success, according to an email from the DEA that compiled the effort's results.
"Without the commitment from our law enforcement colleagues from across the great state of Alabama, our (National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative) efforts would not be successful," the email read. "Because of the outstanding efforts of (Fort Rucker and it's departments), we had our largest collection of unused and unneeded prescription medications. We collected 5,906 pounds of prescription medications (in Alabama) -- almost double our total from the previous NTBI event."
The most recent event set up collection points at 5,829 locations by more than 4,300 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, culminating in more than 2.8 million pounds of prescription medications being removed from circulation from all five events.
The April event had locations set up across the Wiregrass in Fort Rucker, Daleville, Ozark, Enterprise and Dothan, and contributed to more than 229 pounds of unused medication, said Jesse Hunt, Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator.
These events are necessary because they keep excess medication from being improperly disposed of or used, he said, adding that people should store their old, unused medications in a safe place until the next event is announced.
"(This event is great because) it gives people the opportunity to dispose of old, outdated or unused medications properly and safely," said Peggy Contreras, Fort Rucker community police supervisor. "It's a 'no questions asked' disposal method," so people can drop off their unused prescription medications without the worry of any legal or criminal ramifications.
Before people even take their medications, they need to be knowledgeable about what they are taking, said Hunt.
"People need to know when to take their medications properly," he said. "They need to know where they are on the pain scale and decide if they really need that medication or not," adding that people shouldn't take medications just because they have them, but make informed decisions on whether it's the right choice.
People should be taking "get well" doses of medication, not the "get high" doses, which can lead to addiction, he said, adding that just because a person is prescribed a certain type of medication it doesn't mean they must take it.
Many people might not know or understand that medications have a shelf life, said Hunt, who explained that it depends on the type of medication.
"Most pain relievers will probably still be good after a couple years, but things like antibiotics start to break down and lose their potency," he said, adding that medications that people are unsure about should be properly disposed of.
"This is why this is a good program, because you can't just throw these things in the trash," said Hunt. "You shouldn't dump it down the toilet or throw away because it's unsafe for the environment and prying eyes that might dig it out of the trash."
Once the medications are collected, they will be incinerated, and what's left or cannot be incinerated will be properly disposed of in accordance with environmental law, he said.