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“Got Drugs?” pill take back campaign underway here

By Pamela Jackson | | April 26, 2012

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Law enforcement officials at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany are partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct the National Pill Take Back Campaign here Friday and Saturday.

Rick Dunwoodie, special agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, said the DEA sponsors the national campaign annually, but this is the first time MCLB Albany has participated.

“(The campaign) is designed to give the public a safe and secure manner to dispose of old pharmaceuticals they may have in the home,” he said. “This is important because these drugs pose a danger to anyone taking them outside of being prescribed by a physician.” Dunwoodie said children can get their hands on the drugs or they can be obtained from someone burglarizing a home, especially if it is known that a person has prescription drugs in his or her possession.

“It is important to dispose of them for your own safety because many of these medications have a shelf life, which causes them to lose their effectiveness once they have expired,” he said. Ultimately, a person can be taking drugs that are not doing what they are supposed to because they have expired. These are just some of the risks the medications can pose to individuals who have access or possession of them.”

Dunwoodie also noted most people who dispose of unused medications do it in one of two ways - either by throwing them in the trash can or flushing them down the toilet, which is not the proper method.

“I’ve done a lot of work with DEA over the past several years,” he said. “(I) only recently became aware of this campaign through my interaction with them.

“We thought this would be a good opportunity to raise awareness and give the people who live and work on the installation a place to bring their medications while here at work,” Dunwoodie added.

The website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp, noted prescription drugs are the second most abused category of drugs in the U.S., following marijuana.

It is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem and has been classified as an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control.

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly one-third of people, age 12 and older, who used drugs for the first time in 2009, began by using prescription drugs non-medically.

The survey further noted more than70 percent of individuals who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or over the Internet. In the military, illicit drug use increased from 5 percent to 12 percent among active-duty service members from 2005 to 2008, primarily due to non-medical use of prescription drugs, according to the survey.

Judy Bowles, executive director, Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful and coordinator of the community’s annual Operation Pill Drop, said this is an awareness event to alert citizens that medications disposed of improperly can affect the environment in a negative way.

“Medications thrown in the trash can leach into the environment and flushed drugs can kill bacteria that breaks down waste in our waste water treatment plant,” she said. “These medications can damage septic systems and can contaminate nearby waterways and harm aquatic wildlife.”

Bowles said a collection event, like the one here on base, not only results in proper disposal of unwanted and/or outdated drugs, but allows individuals to remove medications from their medicine cabinets that could fall into the wrong hands.

According to the website, http://www.dea-diversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html, Americans who participated in the DEA’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Oct. 29, 2011, turned in more than 377,086 pounds or 188.5 tons of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Individuals should also dispose of outdated and unwanted pet medications. KADB recently partnered with local law enforcement to collect 95,800 pills, weighing 107 pounds. The third annual community event will be held in September.

The schedule for the base event will be Friday from 8-10 a.m. at Marine Depot Maintenance Command; 10 a.m. - noon at the Naval Branch Health Clinic; noon - 2 p.m. at the Marine Corps Exchange and from 2-4 p.m. at Building 3700.

The schedule for Saturday, which is the national recognition day, will be from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Marine Corps Police Department.

For more information about this program, call 800-882-9539.


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