By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Sgt. Eugene Griffith, a detective with the city's Police Department, doesn't want prescription drugs getting into the wrong hands.
So he's encouraging city residents to bring expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs to 246 Industrial Park Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.
No questions are asked and the service is free and anonymous.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is working with the local police department to give residents an opportunity to dispose of the drugs and avoid theft and pill abuse.
"We had an event in April and had a great turnout," Sgt. Griffith said recently.
"In fact we've had great turnouts every single time since the prescription drug take-back events were started in 2010."
Local law enforcement wants to give residents another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.
Sgt. Griffith warns against putting unused prescription drugs in the garbage or down the toilet.
"They can be very hazardous to the aquifer if you flush them. If they go in the garbage they may end up in the wrong hands," he said.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem.
There will be a Southeast Volusia Prescription Drug Abuse Community Forum and Panel Discussion from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the New Smyrna Beach High School Auditorium, 1015 10th St.
It is sponsored by the Substance Abuse Task Force, and New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange and Edgewater Police Departments.
The goal is to educate and inform the community about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and efforts to combat this growing problem.
Among those invited to serve on the panel are State Attorney R.J. Larizza, 7th Judicial Circuit; Judge Joseph Will, 7th Judicial Circuit Court; Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marie Herrmann; Dr. Pamela Carbiener, Halifax Ob-Gyn; Mark Jones, CEO, Community Partnership for Children; Chet Bell, CEO, Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavior Health. Ray Salazar, president of United Way, will moderate the discussion.
One way to remove the temptation of prescription drugs is to dispose of expired, unused and unwanted drugs during the Sept. 29 drug take-back.
In April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds - 276 tons - of prescription drugs at more than 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners.
In its four previous Take Back events, the DEA and its partners took in more than 1.5 million pounds - nearly 775 tons - of pills.
According to information from the DEA, this initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.
Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
Four days after the first take-back event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an "ultimate user" of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the U.S. Attorney General to accept them.
The act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long-term care facilities to dispose of their residents' controlled substances in certain instances.
DEA is drafting regulations to implement the act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the New Smyrna Beach Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.