SALINAS VALLEY — A South County Prescription Drug Take Back Week will take place from Oct. 21 through 25, during which residents can bring unused or expired medicine to the lobbies of Gonzales or King City police departments to be eliminated with no questions asked.

The two departments are working together with Sun Street Centers to reduce prescription drug abuse in the area.

Sun Street Centers has partnered with Monterey County Prescribe Safe Intuitive in 2018 to host a total of 12 take-back disposal bins in the county, with 10,000 pounds of unused medications and another 300 pounds of unused medication from hospice services.

Regular DEA Prescription Drug Take Back events have been held since 2010, with Gonzales Police Department having participated since 2011.

“Consistently the Gonzales take-back registers well over 100 pounds each six-month interval,” said Darlene Acosta, South County prevention program manager for Sun Street.

Acosta did not have the totals for King City’s collections, but she said the police department also works with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and Pine Canyon Fire Department.

“Almost all the local DEA events have been completely shut down or canceled for the second time this year as the Shelter-in-Place continues,” Acosta said.

This is an effect seen throughout South Monterey County, as Greenfield Police Department has a take-back bin, as well, but its lobby is not open to the public due to Covid-19 concerns, Acosta said.

The reasoning behind a prescription drug take-back stems from access to the particular drugs.

“South County often houses three-generational families, and with age often comes pain medication and other prescription meds that can be accessed by others,” Acosta said. “Being able to dispose of the medications safely and responsibly is a great asset to have during this time of heighten incidents of prescription and illicit drug overdose exacerbated by the Shelter-in-Place mandate.”

Acosta cited information from the American Medical Association released in September detailing an increase of opioid deaths and overdoses nationally by 30%.

In addition, illicit fentanyl and counterfeit pills have flooded the market, which lead to a higher likelihood of mortality, especially with fatalities being concentrated in youth up to age 28.

Such concerns over illegal narcotics have led to Soledad Police Department starting efforts to inform their community about the dangers of drugs as well as how to use Narcan, a substance known to save the lives of those suffering an overdose.

The current take-back event, however, is only for prescription drugs, and not illegal drugs.

“We will be planning a series of preventive education and treatment to talk about prevention, education and helps to combat incidence of opioid overdose and other safety issues by utilizing electronic sessions to those who wish to be apart,” Acosta said about future community efforts in the works.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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