ELKTON — National Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, and Cecil County knows how to make it a great time. Bring the entire family out to Elkton High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On the fun side, there will be a Trunk and Treat event and a health fair with lots of information about various Cecil County organizations.
On the serious side, the event will also serve as a vehicle for an official Presidential Proclamation from the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Deputy Director Kendel Ehrlich. You may know her as a former First Lady of the State of Maryland.
Ehrlich will give the proclamation to Drug Free Cecil’s Youth Coalition, a group of tween and teenagers who advocate for abstinence from drugs for the county’s young people.
Cecil County’s Jackie Hartman is coordinating the health fair, and Beth Creek, executive director of Youth Empowerment Source, Inc., and the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition, is coordinating the Trunk and Treat portion.
“The message that we want the youth to take away is that they can be part of the solution by living a drug free lifestyle and getting involved in positive drug-free activities,” said Virgil Boysaw, Jr., coordinator of Drug Free Cecil for the county.
“The most important message for parents is that parenting is the best form of prevention.”
Statewide efforts on Saturday
If you can’t make it to the event, there are several places throughout the county and state you can surrender prescription and other drugs. At the North East barracks and all others around the state, the Maryland State Police will be assisting citizens who want to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, as well.
“Each barrack will act as a collection station giving citizens an opportunity to dispose of all unwanted and unused prescription drugs,” said MSP in a statement.
“The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.”
Federal agencies report that the majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from medicine cabinets found in the home or left unsecured.
The Maryland State Police said they have collected over 20,000 pounds of expired and unwanted prescription medications combined through similar events since in the past five years. In April, state police removed close to 1,943 pounds of prescription medications from circulation.
“It is exciting to see how much the Drug Take Back initiative has grown in Cecil County,” said Daniel Coulter, director of health planning for the Cecil County Health Department.
“In addition to the biannual Drug Take Back Days, we now have seven permanent drug drop boxes located throughout the county and distribute Deterra drug deactivation bags for safe disposal at home.”
It’s not just presecption drugs that you can bring to the Spooktacular event or other places around the county, although any prescription medications people have at home are accepted.
Anything, including opioids, can be turned in, said Coulter. “No questions asked. But needles, other sharp items and liquids are not accepted.”
Officials also warned that personal or identifying information should be removed from the label of pill bottles or medicine packaging prior to disposal.
Medicine poisoning happens to kids
Coulter said that each year, thousands of children under the age of six are treated in the emergency room for medicine poisoning in the United States.
“Kids are naturally curious and can easily get into medicine when it is stored within their reach,” he told the Whig on Thursday. “It is important to keep medicine up and away and to keep medicine in child resistant packaging whenever possible. Parents should never refer to medicine as candy, as it may encourage kids to try it for themselves.”
Older children should be taught how to take medicine responsibly.
“This September, 15 youth trainers from the Drug Free Cecil Youth Coalition taught a class on over-the-counter medication safety class to over 1,000 Cecil County sixth graders during their North Bay experience,” said Coulter. “Drug Free Cecil’s youth-led, adult guided initiatives are helping to change social norms about substance use among Cecil County youth.”
Coulter and other prevention advocates in the county want parents to know that it is “up to all of us to prevent drug abuse.”
Parents can start in their own medicine cabinets.
“About two-thirds of teens who misuse prescription medications say that they got them from family and friends, including from their home’s medicine cabinet,” he said.
“Storing prescription opioids and other medications in a secure place and properly disposing of leftover medicine can help to limit access to these dangerous substances. Cecil County residents are encouraged to turn in unused or expired medications — no questions asked — for safe disposal during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day or at any time throughout the year at one of Cecil County’s permanent drop box locations.”