Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program reaching millions of Americans during the last week of October. By wearing red ribbons and participating in community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free life and pay tribute to DEA Special Agent Enriqué “Kiki” Camarena.
Special Agent Camarena was an 11-year veteran of the DEA assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico, office where he was on the trail of the country’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers. In 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. On February 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.
Heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens rightly conjure frightening associations of the terrible consequences of drug abuse. But an equally dangerous and far more insidious form of drug abuse goes on all around us. Some of us may even be contributing to the problem without even knowing it!
More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than abuse cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than “street drugs.” And yet, two in five teens believe that prescription drugs are “much safer” than street drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Three in 10 teens believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive. Some 60 percent of teens who abused prescription pain relievers did so before the age of 15.
The fact is, a majority of teens obtained the drugs from family and friends, sometimes from their medicine cabinets without their knowledge.
October 23 – National Prescription Drug Day
To help keep our children, communities and the environment safe, the Northwestern Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office is participating in National Prescription Drug Day. Residents can anomalously bring their unwanted prescription drugs for safe disposal by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of children and teenagers is one of the most important objectives of National Prescription Drug Day, as is raising awareness of this growing public health crisis and ensuring the safety of our elder population. Helping elders clean out their medicine cabinets can help prevent accidental overdoses and the misappropriation of prescription drugs by personal care assistants or loved ones.
Another objective of Take Back Day is keeping harmful chemicals out of the environment. Unwanted and out-of-date drugs cannot be simply thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. Pharmaceuticals are already present in some of the nation’s waterbodies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The long-term consequences remain to be seen.
As part of Red Ribbon Week, this Oct. 29 marks the third time the Drug Enforcement Administration has partnered with local law enforcement agencies and others to collect unwanted drugs at secure locations and dispose of them properly.
At the last Take Back Day, on April 30, more than 376,593 pounds (188 tons) of unwanted or expired medications were collected at 5,361 take-back sites in all 50 states. This was 55 percent more than the 242,000 pounds (121 tons) collected on the first Take Back Day in September, 2010. In New England, Massachusetts led the way, with some 12,354 pounds collected.
HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COLLECTION SITES
Northampton- Smith Vocational- 80 Locust St
Amherst – Wildwood Elementary School
Belchertown – Town Commons
Cummington – Cummington Safety Complex
Easthampton – Easthampton Safety Complex
Granby – Granby High School
Hadley – Hadley Safety Complex
Hatfield – Town Hall
Huntington – Transfer Station
Southampton – Town Hall
South Hadley – Police Station
Ware – Ware High School
Westhampton – Westhampton Police/Fire Station
Williamsburg – Anne Dunphy School
Worthington – Town Hall
Franklin County Collection Sites
Greenfield – Greenfield High School
Ashfield – Town Hall
Buckland – Police Station, 69 1/2 Conway St.
Deerfield – Town Offices
Erving – Police Station
Montague – Montague Safety Complex
Northfield – Town Hall
Orange – Armory
Shelburne – Buckland-Sehelburne Elementary School
Worcester County Collection Site
Athol – Athol High School
So, mark the date – Saturday, Oct. 29 – and get ready to participate in the next National Prescription Drug Take Back day by bringing your unwanted drugs to a local drop-off point between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Help keep drugs out of the hands of children and teens – and out of the environment.