The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, in partnership with Ralphs and Walmart pharmacies, collected 30 boxes filled with drugs at their National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.
Those 30 boxes equate to approximately 389.2 pounds of medications, which is a similar result to their event last month, but is a significant increase over prior events.
“We have seen a huge improvement on the numbers since we first started doing this locally,” said Dr. Jessica Chang, Ralphs Valencia’s pharmacy manager. “I think it really helps make the awareness reach out further in the community.”
Though National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day only comes around once a year, the SCV Sheriff’s Station is determined to bring the opportunity to safely dispose of unused or expired medications to residents every couple of months.
“The problem doesn’t go away, so we have to keep making sure that people get rid of their stuff in a safe way,” said Deputy Bill Velek, with the J-Team, which handles drug prevention for juveniles and adults. “There’s plenty of opportunities, and we try and to pay attention to when these events are. If there’s a gap, that’s when we try to put one on here (at the station).”
This is also the first time residents were given the chance to drop off medications at two locations in order to increase accessibility for the day’s event.
In 2018, an estimated 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs, and a majority are obtained from family and friends, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Unauthorized access to prescription drugs can lead to misuse, abuse or accidental poisoning, while improper disposal, such as throwing it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet, can lead to environmental damages that can be hazardous to public safety and health, according to officials.
“When you flush it down the toilet or save it for a family member who might need it afterward, that’s all misuses of prescription pills,” said Janelly Juarez, director of prevention services at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of the San Fernando Valley, or NCADD.
Volunteers from NCADD, like Juarez, were also in attendance to help educate the community on the importance of safe storage and proper disposal.
In addition, participants were taught other alternative methods of safely disposing of their medication, such as powders that dissolve the medicine, or grinding them up and mixing them with an undesirable substance to make them unrecognizable.
“It’s really important information that we try to reiterate to all the patients that come to the pharmacy, but there are a lot of others … that are not aware of it,” Chang said, adding that it has become a talking point with her patients. “It’s been really rewarding.”
Safely dispose of expired or unused medications, vaping devices and batteries year-round 2:30-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Newhall Community Center, located at 22421 Market St.