California Drug Take-Back Program Launches Public Education Campaign
(Sacramento) – The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) working through a grant from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), announced today the kick-off of their public education campaign following the installation of approximately 250 safe medication disposal bins (med bins) across California. The med bins provide safe disposal of unwanted, unneeded, and/or expired medication and were provided as part of the federal grant-funded California Drug Take-Back Program.
The campaign, geared towards keeping California communities safe from the harmful effects of opioids and other prescription drugs, includes published inserts that explain how to use the med bins, a comprehensive med bin locator map, and education around the benefits of using the med bins, which includes:
- a convenient, safe, and anonymous disposal option for unused or expired medications;
- providing an alternative to stockpiling medications at home, as stockpiling can lead to accidental overdose by children, family, or visitors;
- helping prevent discarded drugs from being taken out of the trash or medication cabinets by others, which can lead to illegal drug use or sale;
- a reduction of problematic disposal methods, such as flushing medication down the toilet, which endangers the environment and can lead to pollution of our waterways (streams, rivers, and lakes) as wastewater treatment plants cannot completely remove drugs from the waste water systems; and
- complete destruction of medications through thermal combustion at waste-to-energy plants.
“Unused medications that are not disposed of properly can cause a myriad of serious public safety concerns,” said CPSC Executive Director Doug Kobold. “For example, if unused medications stay in your medication cabinet, they can fall into the hands of a child or senior, who could accidentally overdose. They could also be misused by a teenager, which could lead to an addiction. If unused medications are thrown away in a garbage can, it is possible that they may be illegally diverted. If drugs are flushed down a toilet, they will likely end up in our waterways, potentially harming plant and animal life. Fortunately, the med bins help to solve these issues by providing a convenient disposal option for unwanted prescription opioids and other unwanted medications.”
“Our old system was labor and cost intensive,” said Administrative Sergeant Michael Rompal in the Ventura County Sheriff’s office “Now we have the least amount of contact with the contents of the bin, and that’s phenomenal. I facilitated the installation of the bins in all of our sheriff’s stations in Ventura County, and provided information to other police departments.”
“It was nice to see a local effort scale up throughout the region in partnership with CPSC, with Sgt. Rompal as the nexus,” said Spencer Silverstein, a sustainability analyst for the City of Thousand Oaks. “At the end of the day, we want to keep unwanted medications out of the environment and out of the wrong hands – period. If they go into the bins, we’ve accomplished that.”
The California Drug Take-Back Program is funded by a $3 million grant from DHCS through the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, which in turn was funded by grants from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The California Take-Back Program grant was part of a larger $140 million funding allotment from the federal government with the purpose of funding a wide variety of programs aimed at combating the opioid crisis across the state.