Drug-free coalition hosting medication take-back day

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Saginaw-based Shelby County Drug Free Coalition and the county’s Drug Enforcement Task Force are looking to cut down on prescription drug abuse while helping residents clean out their medicine cabinets during a medication take-back day.

The take back will be held April 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Alabaster Target store in the Colonial Promenade shopping center and at the Greystone YMCA near the intersection of Alabama 119 and U.S. 280.

During the event, the task force will collect all unused, unwanted or expired medications in an attempt to cut down on the number of Shelby County residents, especially teens, who abuse prescription medications.

“Over-the-counter and prescription medicine abuse is a growing trend with our youth,” said Drug Free Coalition Project Coordinator Carol Williams.

Williams said national studies have shown 70 percent of teens who say they have abused medications or over-the-counter drugs got the substances from their parents’ house or a relative’s house without their knowledge.

“Parents may not realize a pill is missing here or there,” Williams said. “It’s a good idea to get rid of medicines you aren’t using anymore.”

Locally, tobacco and alcohol are by far the most abused substances among teens, Williams said. However, marijuana and prescription drugs are the top illicit substances teens abuse, she said.

The most-abused medications locally include cough syrups, stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall and pain killers such as Oxycontin.

“It’s an issue not only for teens, but for many adults as well,” she said. “The over-the-counter substances like cough syrups are highest-abused substances around here.”

During the take back day, officers with the Drug Enforcement Task Force will set up stations in the parking lots of the Alabaster Target and the Greystone YMCA, which will allow motorists to drop off their unused medications without exiting their vehicles.

The take back day is free, and task force members will not ask for any personal information from those who drop off over-the-counter or prescription medications. However, the officers will only accept over-the-counter and prescription medications, not illicit or controlled substances.

“Everyone is welcome to remove any identifying information from the pill bottles,” Williams said. “The officers will not ask for any names when they collect the medications.”

For more information about the take back day, call the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force at 670-0436.