Drug Take-Back Day 2013 a Success

Articles Police 11-18-13

A record number of prescription drugs were safely donated by residents back to law enforcement officials this fall thanks to the ongoing cooperation of Arlington Water Utilities and the Arlington Police Department.

The drug take-back event held in October netted over 1,800 pounds of unused, accumulated prescription medications, a record for the City. The City of Arlington’s spring take-back event garnered 1,278 pounds.

Arlington’s haul of prescription medicine even bested neighboring Dallas, whose police department took in just over 1,000 pounds of medications. The Fort Worth Police Department accepted 2,300 pounds, officials reported.

The take-back events are conducted with the Drug Enforcement Agency which properly destroys the medications that cities collect. The effort serves as a reminder to routinely clean out the medicine cabinet of unused prescriptions, officials said.

The necessary but complex process of properly disposing of such potentially harmful medications has united Arlington’s water and police departments. Officials said each department has a viable reason to participate.

Water Department officials don’t want residents to dump unused medication in the toilet, a once-common practice that now is considered a threat to water resources. Police don’t want certain prescription drugs in the hands of those who could fatally consume or sell them.

Arlington Police Sgt. Carlos Alanis said this fall’s collection event resulted in a 71 percent increase over the same time last year.

Alanis said getting the word out through special illuminated City message boards and social media efforts has helped increase awareness of the events.

He also credited Water Department officials for including fliers within water utility bills that advertised the drug take-back.

Joe Gildersleeve, Water Resource Services Manager, said that after several years of participating in the initiative with police, they’re starting to see a pay-off.

“This is a safe, one-day opportunity to get rid of all of those medications,” he said. “We’re moving toward responsible disposal of these drugs. People are getting used to the idea of us having these events.”

Gildersleeve said flushing unused medications will affect the water supply over time. He said large institutions like hospitals also are changing the way they dispose of medications.

The take-back events, typically staged in April and October, are held at various Police Department locations throughout Arlington. Two Walgreens stores—one in South Arlington and one in North Arlington—also participated.

Police officers are stationed at the collection sites to protect against boxes being stolen. The items then are transferred to the DEA, which will burn the contents, Alanis said.

Alanis said the take-back events call attention to the potential danger of keeping prescription drugs in the home. He encouraged residents to keep an eye on the medications they’re taking—and lock up unused ones until the next drug take-back event.

He said teens in particular have figured out the street value of some painkillers.

“They may not use the pills themselves, but they’ll sell them,” Alanis said. “We have to be more responsible with our prescriptions.”