In an effort to remove prescription drugs from causing potential harm and death, the Action Family Foundation, in conjunction with KHTS AM-1220, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, held the third annual SCV Drug Takeback Day Saturday.
Outside of the main entrance of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, healthcare workers and volunteers collected prescription drugs in white boxes lined with plastic.
This year’s SCV Drug Takeback Day collected more prescription drugs in its first hour than in previous years, said Cary Quashen, executive director of the Behavioral Health Unit at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, and Krissy Mcafee, an Action Family Foundation board member.
Six boxes were completely filled before the event had reached its second hour.
This year brought in 158 pounds and filled nine boxes after four hours, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
“Last year, we got 128 pounds in only four hours,” Mcafee said.
Since 2001, prescription drug overdoses have been on the the rise in the United States, killing more people than both cocaine and heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“These are drugs that can kill people,” Quashen said. “When dealing with adolescents or kids or anybody right now, they are strung out on dope they are finding in the medicine cabinets. So we’re trying to get as many drugs away from our young people so we can lose less lives.”
The SCV Drug Takeback Day is part of a national effort to reduce the amount of prescription drugs people are using in order to reduce deaths, said Quashen.
“It’s a national deal,” Quashen said. “Nationally, over 2,000 tons have been off the streets since all of this has been going on.”
After the drugs have been collected, a deputy on scene will take the boxes to the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, where they will be incinerated, said Shirley Miller, public information officer for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The SCV Sheriff’s Station were also at the event to help increase awareness of public safety regarding drugs and about an ongoing program the Sheriff’s Station puts on to help get even more drugs disposed in a safe manner.
“At our station, we have a drug takeback program that’s open 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day,” Miller said. “A lot of people don’t know they have this option to safely dispose of their medication, or their sharps and keeping them from getting in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. It’s a safety issue and bad for the environment to just dump them down the toilet.”
The station has three different disposal boxes for drugs, one for prescription, one for illegal drugs and one for biohazards, said Miller.
| Sklar Barti