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Program calls for drug drop-offs

Event to protect citizens, local water
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An upcoming event asks residents to protect Auburn community members and their water from drugs. On Sept. 25 the city of Auburn is hosting a prescription drug take-back event in cooperation with the Coalition for Placer Youth, Placer County Youth Commission and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The free drop-off is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Auburn City Hall parking lot. The event will also be held at 12 other locations throughout Placer County. According to Anne Staines, awareness and media co-chairwoman for the Coalition for Placer Youth, the take-back has two main purposes: to keep drugs out of the hands of those who abuse them and preventing the unwanted medications from being flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash. “The broad objective is to be able to take unused prescription medications that are sitting in people’s medicine cabinets and dispose of them properly,” Staines said. “It’s important that they not be flushed down the toilet because there are so many chemicals ending up in our water supply.” Megan Siren, administrative analyst for the city of Auburn, said Auburn has hosted similar events in the past two years to promote the “No Drugs Down the Drain” campaign. The 2008 take-back day was a statewide event, and in 2009 Auburn hosted its own event. Siren said the only cost of this year’s event is city staff time and pay for those who will be manning the area, because the DEA is paying for the cost of having all drugs destroyed after they are collected. When prescription medications are flushed down the toilet or put into the landfill, they can leak into local groundwater, and water-treatment technology is not able to remove all traces of the drugs from water systems, Siren said. “Our main (goal) is to get it out of our wastewater treatment plant and our sewer system,” Siren said. “We also don’t want it in our solid waste.” While prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and veterinary medications are the main focal point of the program, illegal drugs can also be turned in. Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said if someone brings in a small amount of an illegal substance, and doesn’t appear to be under the influence, they could drop off the drug and walk away with no questions asked. However, someone who appears to be under the influence of illegal substances and has large amounts of drugs in their possession, will be investigated by the police, Harris said. “If somebody drives up to us and they have obvious objective symptoms of impairment … we obviously have to ask questions for public safety,” she said. Harris said her goal is to remove drugs from the community that could be harmful to residents. “I want to get any potential drugs off the street that would be used incorrectly and possibly harm someone,” she said. According to the DEA, the Controlled Substances Act does not allow pharmacists to take back controlled substance medications. Examples of these medications are vicodin, percocet, oxycontin and valium. However, Congress is currently considering amending the act to make it easier for consumers to dispose of these types of medications. Harris said local law enforcement agencies are working to have permanent drop-off sites in Placer County cities. “I think what this take-back helps to demonstrate is we need some legislation changes as to how people are able to discard prescriptions,” Harris said. “All of the law enforcement agencies in the county have been looking to see how we could create drop sites at our facilities that meet the DEA’s legal requirements. That effort is still in progress.” According to Michelle White, environmental resource specialist with Placer County Environmental Engineering, residents can drop off prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, syringes and lancets daily at the Western Placer Waste Management Authority Materials Recovery Facility at 3033 Fiddyment Road between Roseville and Lincoln. Staines said a main group the event is targeting is teenagers. According to the DEA, every day 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, one in seven teens admits to abusing drugs to get high in the past year and two in five teens believe prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs. Syringes, lancets, medical waste, inhalers and hydrogen peroxide will not be accepted. The county is also encouraging those dropping off prescription drugs to remove labels from bottles. Rocklin resident Sandra Barnikel said she definitely thinks pharmacies should be allowed to take back all medications, and that government shouldn’t get involved. “It’s your responsibility to keep your kids safe, not the government’s responsibility,” Barnikel said. “At least that is my opinion.” Lincoln resident Danielle Thomas said that while she thinks everyone should be taking care of their own medications, the event could help those that won’t. “Honestly, I think people should be responsible for what is in their hands, but at the same time I guess you can’t hold everyone responsible, so I guess this is a good way to get rid of (the drugs),” Thomas said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Rx take-back event What: A national event hosted by the DEA to collect prescription and over-the-counter medications for destruction. When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 25 Where: Auburn: City Hall, 1225 Lincoln Way Roseville: Antelope High School, 7801 Titan Way, Oakmont High School, 1710 Cirby Way, Roseville High School, 1 Tiger Way, Woodcreek High School, 2551 Woodcreek Oaks Blvd. Lincoln: Lincoln Police Department, 770 7th Street Rocklin: Sierra College, Rocklin Rd. Parking Lot D, Whitney Oaks High School, 70 Wildcat Blvd. Granite Bay: Granite Bay High School, 1 Grizzly Way Loomis: Sheriff Substation, 6140 Horseshoe Bar Rd. Colfax: Sheriff Substation, 33 North Main St. Kings Beach: Kings Beach Clinic, front parking lot, 8650 Salmon St. For Information: In Auburn, call Megan Siren (530) 823-4211 ext. 145, In Placer County, call (530) 889-7238