By Sarah Pacheco, Hawaii Army Weekly, U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiOctober 18, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Oct. 18, 2013) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 26, here, and at other locations on Oahu and around the state.
Officials said this occasion is a great opportunity for those who missed previous events or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted or unused prescription drugs to safely dispose of those medications.
"It should be everyone's responsibility to dispose of unwanted, over-the-counter medication prescriptions properly," said Brent Oto, instructor, Army Substance Abuse Program, here.
"Medications, if thrown away, may end up back in the community … and in landfills, and these medications can end up in the environment or oceans," Oto continued. "We constantly educate people (to) don't just throw (meds) away, because it may end up in the wrong place."
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are on the rise, with twice as many Americans currently abusing prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin combined.
What's more, the survey revealed that a majority of people abusing prescription pain relievers (70 percent) obtained them through family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
"We know that young people consider controlled-substance prescription drugs, like Vicodin, to be a safer way to get high, but they couldn't be more wrong," said Michele Leonhart, administrator, DEA, in a news release.
"Everything we do is geared toward protecting American families and communities," Leonhart continued. "By removing unwanted prescription drugs from their homes, the public helps prevent experimentation, addiction, overdose and even death."
The last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, held April 27, saw citizens turn in a record-breaking 742,497 pounds (or 371 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for proper disposal at the 5,829 take-back sites available in all 50 states and U.S. territories -- a 50 percent increase over the previous event in September 2012.
To date, more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation since the take-back initiative began three years ago.
"By these national campaigns that are conducted every six months, we have seen a rise in turn-in and pounds being disposed of every year," said Oto, noting that 2,150 pounds of unwanted medications was turned in, locally, during the April collection.
"The military communities brought in 441 pounds combined -- that's about 20 percent of the state total -- and the Army took the lead on the most turn-ins with 211 pounds. This October, we hope to do the same," Oto said.
A large part of the take-back's success, said Oto, are the 4,312 state, local and tribal law-enforcement agencies that partner with DEAnationwide, including all branches of military service, as well as local substance abuseprograms.
Among those involved in Hawaii are the state Narcotics Enforcement Division, Army Department of Defense Police, Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter Provost Marshal offices, and Tripler and Schofield pharmacies.
"The public is getting aware and keeping the community safe from these medications by keeping them out of the reach of the youth, environment and off the streets," said Oto. "The more we market and advertise to the military, families and community, we will get more results."
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is scheduled 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 26, at various sites on Oahu.
Bring all unwanted, unused or expired medications in a sealed plastic bag for safe, anonymous disposal to any of these locations:
•Schofield Barracks PX, main lobby, near flower shop;
•Navy Exchange, main lobby;
•Marine Corps Exchange, in front;
•Kapolei Police Station, parking lot;
•Town Center of Mililani, north end of mall;
•Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center, middle of mall;
•Kahala Mall, inside; or the
•Hawaii State Capitol, Beretania Street drive-through.
The service also is offered at the following neighbor island locations:
•Big Island of Hawaii's Army Aviation Support Facility (adjacent to Civil Air
Patrol), or the Hawaii Police Department Kona Police Station (parking lot);
•Maui County Police Department
(parking lot); or
•Kauai Police Department (parking lot).
Only solid medicines may be turned in; no liquids, injectables or needles will be accepted. For more information, call 808-541-1930.
The Army Substance Abuse Program is a comprehensive program that provides services to active duty service members, Army Reserve/National Guardsmen (while on active duty), family members and Department of Defense civilians.
Based out of Schofield Barracks, the multifaceted program is comprised of clinical and non-clinical functions, to include prevention education, clinical counseling services suicide prevention and education, military and civilian drug testing, risk reduction, the Employee Assistance Program and Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Services.