FAIRFIELD — Officials with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office collected more than 200 pounds of unneeded and expired prescription and other medications Saturday during the semiannual prescription drug take-back event, backed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Across the county, 94 individuals took advantage of the drop-off, which serves to keep the medications out of the water supply and out of the hands of people looking for a pharmaceutical thrill.
“The reason why Solano County and the Sheriff’s Office got involved back in 2007 . . . was that there was teen ‘pharming’ that was occurring in the Bay Area and we heard it was coming this way and we wanted to be proactive as opposed to reactive,” said Narcisa Untal, a senior planner with the county’s Department of Resource Management. “So the Sheriff’s Office took it upon themselves to be the first in this county to start a drug take-back event.”
Untal said her department’s focus is keeping the drugs out of the environment – making sure people don’t flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash, where the medications will end up in a landfill and find their way into the groundwater.
“It has environmental impacts to our waterways, foremost is that,” she said. “Equally important is getting the drugs out of homes where if they’re not going to be used, or if they’re expired, there’s no reason to have them there, so let’s give people a place where they can properly dispose of them.”
On Monday, the DEA will take custody of all drugs dropped off at the Solano County locations and the medications will be incinerated, Untal said.
For the law enforcement side of things, it’s about preventing misuse of prescription drugs.
“So it doesn’t get into the hands of kids or other adults who shouldn’t have access to it,” Untal said. “Because we’re getting a whole load of narcotics and for a lot of people, they don’t understand the difference.”
The Sheriff’s Office is also trying to prevent accidental misuse.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of prescription overdoses, they just think more is better and then your body gets to a point where it doesn’t know what it’s had and it just shuts down,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Gregg Spanos. “We’ve had a lot (of those).”
Deputy Tenzin Dorji agreed, adding that the fewer unused medications out there, the less likely teenagers and others looking for a high will find something.
“Teenagers getting a hold of older people’s medications, that’s kind of bad,” Dorji said.
He and Untal both noted that the rate of prescription drug abuse is higher than that of regular street drugs.
The county also collected sharps, including used syringes.
“We work with NorthBay Hospital, which provides the containers for sharps,” Untal said. “The DEA event does not – it says publicly, ‘We do not accept sharps.’ However, we know people are going to bring them in because they won’t distinguish the difference. So they’re bringing them in along with their medicines, and we want to be really prepared, so every single site in Solano County has access to the containers and in the end we deliver it back to NorthBay and they take care of the disposal costs for us.”
Sure enough, the Coroner’s Office collected several full containers to hand off to NorthBay.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.