Saturday marked the Drug Enforcement Agency's 19th annual National Drug Take Back Day, helping to ensure unused prescription drugs don't find their way into the wrong hands.
San Luis Obispo County Opioid Coalition teamed up with California Highway Patrol to hold a free drive-thru event in San Luis Obispo, collecting medication drop-offs from community members.
"We save them up, we have a box in the garage and as we change prescriptions or we stop using something than we wait until the next event and come and bring them," Arroyo Grande resident Tom Burhenn said.
Jenn Rhoads, the SLO County Opioid Coalition Coordinator, said cleaning out your medicine cabinet should be done about every six months, to avoid clutter at home and to stay up-to-date on current prescriptions.
“You don’t want to be confused right? If you do get sick later, you want to make sure you are taking the correct one," Rhoads said.
Disposing of excess or unwanted medication can reduce the risk of accidents with children or the misuse of medication, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
“If you’re not using it, let's dispose of it in a safe way," Rhoads said.
SLO County's Behavioral Health Department has seen an increased need for mental health services during the pandemic.
Rhoads says those struggling with mental health concerns often try to self-medicate with substances which can be extremely dangerous.
Medication dangers can also be present when people get behind the wheel.
CHP officers says it's important to know DUI’s involves alcohol, drugs and prescription medication.
In 2019, 4,896 law enforcement agencies participated in the DEA's National Drug Take Back event.
“Get rid of these things. That way you don’t have to try to figure out what you’re going to be doing with them. Just drop them off and we’ll take care of the rest," said Mike Poelking, a public information officer for CHP SLO.
On Saturday, 28 boxes were filled with 489 pounds of medication. CHP dropped off collections to the DEA, where they will take possession of the unused drugs.
Those still looking to dispose of old or unused medication can do so at any local pharmacy which will either have a physical drop-box inside or a pharmacist who can provide a mail-back envelope.