After a complicated surgery last June, the doctors sent Antioch’s Kayla Richmond home with a stockpile of medications to help with everything from pain to possible indigestion she may deal with. By September, she felt great and wound up not using several of the pills the doctor gave her, but she had no idea what to do with the medication.
“My mom told me just to flush it down the toilet, but I’d remembered hearing that wasn’t a good idea for the environment,” Richmond said. “I knew I could bring it back to the pharmacy at the hospital, but honestly, with the pandemic I didn’t want to go anywhere near the hospital for a while.”
At the same time, she saw a Facebook post about a local police station taking in unwanted prescription drugs and quickly dropped them off on the scheduled day without a fuss. The Antioch Police Department, along with several other police agencies in East County, will participate in another such event April 24 called the “Spring Take Back Day.”
“We’re following all the protocols of the DEA program,” said Community Service Officer Stephanie Chalk from the Antioch Police Department. “Rather than flushing down the toilet, the public can come down to the station and drop off their drugs.”
This program is specifically for unused and unwanted prescription drugs. Chalk said that syringes and other sharps are not accepted, but the Delta Hazardous Waste Facility at 2550 Pittsburg-Antioch Highway in Pittsburg has a program that takes sharps for all of East County.
The Brentwood, Oakley and Pittsburg police departments are also participating in “Spring Take Back Day,” and all of their programs will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24. The departments all plan on setting up an area outside their police stations where people can just walk up and add their pill bottles to the provided containers. All those who participate are asked to wear a mask and remain 6 feet apart for everyone’s safety.
“We don’t ask any questions about the drugs,” Chalk said. “We are offering a safe way of disposing them.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported that opioid overdose deaths have increased during pandemic lockdowns and encourages people to take advantage of these events to make sure that old opioid prescriptions are removed from home medicine cabinets, where they can lead to misuse. At its last Take Back Day in October, the DEA reported that it collected a record-high amount of expired, unwanted and unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.
The DEA program and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Along with syringes and other sharps, liquids (including intravenous solutions) and illegal drugs will not be accepted. The program will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at its drop-off locations provided lithium batteries are removed. For addresses of where to drop off unwanted prescription drugs in East County on other days or learn more about the April 24 event, go to deatakeback.com or call 800-882-9539.
Senior health drive-through: The city of Brentwood will host a Senior Health Fair and Safety Circus Drive-through resource event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26, co-sponsored by the East County Senior Coalition and more than 80 agencies. The event will take place at 193 Griffith Lane at the Brentwood Senior Activity Center.
The program offers free resource information, health and fitness kits, safety and emergency preparedness kits, food and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines courtesy of the Medical Reserve Corps Contra Costa Health Services. These vaccines are given to seniors and their caregivers who are at least 18 years old. To preregister, visit brentwood.gov or call 925-516-5444. Space is limited, and preregistration is required.
Roni Gehlke can be reached at [email protected].
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Author: Roni Gehlke
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