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SLO County residents dispose of expired medication on National Drug Take Back Day

Neighbors can drop off their unused or unwanted medication, drugs for free.
Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-25 02:45:44-04

A lot of people have full medicine cabinets that are huge sources of clutter or worse, pose a danger for abuse of prescription medication.

To discourage recreational abuse, the California Highway Patrol and the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition partnered up to host a drug take back program at the CHP office on California St. from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Anyone could stop by and drop off their expired, unused or unwanted medication, drugs, and vitamins with no questions asked.

The event is intended to help people to get rid of medication or drugs to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in children or pets.

“There are no worries as far as anything. You know we’re not running wants, warrants, or anything like that. You know what we really want to do is go ahead and get these prescription meds off the street," CHP SLO officer Mike Poelking said.

The organizers said they started hosting these events around five years ago and they happen twice a year: once in October and then in April.

After the drops off, the CHP will gather the boxes and deliver the medication to the local Drug Enforcement Administration office to be incinerated.

Jenn Rhoads, coordinator for the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition, said many people flush their expired or unwanted medication down the toilet or drain.

However, Rhoads said flushing medications can harm the environment and contaminate the water supply.

“Over time, that buildup can be detrimental to wildlife, and even coming back to the communities in the form of drinking water, and water back in our yards and stuff," she said.

One of the participants, Ed Gleb, brought more than twenty-five pill containers to be disposed.

“I didn’t want to give my prescription drugs away, I had some narcotics stuff, from you know, dental stuff, operations I had in the past. They’ve just been accumulating because I didn’t use them all, so I wanted to do the right thing," Gleb said.

According to the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, which is part of the California Department of Public Health, prescription opioid related deaths increased significantly in 2020 in San Luis Obispo County.

While they are still gathering data for the second half of the year, the first half of 2020 saw almost double the amount of deaths in 2019 in San Luis Obispo County.

There were 21 opioid-related deaths reported halfway through 2020 compared to the 11 deaths in 2019.

Rhoads attributed the increase of opioid-related deaths to the pandemic and circulation of fentanyl nationwide.