Mon, Jan. 20

'Dump the Drugs' Sept. 27 at Verde River Days

Are there expired or unwanted prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet? Do you have old or unwanted over-the-counter medications on your kitchen counter? If yes, MATForce, the Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition, invites you to safely dispose of these medications and help keep these potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of our teens.

MATForce is sponsoring "Dump the Drugs" on Saturday, September 27, at Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood in conjunction with Verde Valley River Days from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"Prescription drug abuse is an increasing threat, especially among our teens," says Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney and MATForce Co-Chair. Research by the Partnership for Drug Free America shows that every day, 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. Teens are accessing these drugs in the comfort of home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer, or medicine cabinet.

"The good news is that parents can immediately help reduce teen access to this type of drug abuse because the drugs are found in the home," says Polk. "We urge all parents to 'Monitor, Secure and Dispose': monitor your prescription drugs, know how many pills you have and urge grandparents to do the same; secure the medications by locking them up or hiding them; and safely dispose of expired or unwanted medications."

Doug Bartosh, Cottonwood city manager, urges the community to participate in the Dump the Drugs event. "This is a good opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of unused medication." MATForce is sponsoring the safe disposal site, which will be near the Entertainment Stage. Police officers from the Cottonwood and Sedona Police Departments will monitor the site and incinerate the medications.

Bartosh further states, "It is important to safely dispose of unused medication, not only to keep our youth safe, but to keep our waters free of pharmaceuticals."

The U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy notes that studies show that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's water bodies. Further research suggests that certain drugs may cause ecological harm. The Drug Control Policy Office suggests that citizens "take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal."

According to the 2006 Arizona Youth Survey, one in five Arizona 12th graders has abused prescription drugs. Richard Dehnert, MATForce Executive Committee Member and Community Relations Coordinator for the Verde Valley Guidance Clinic, added, "Many teens think prescription drugs are safe because they have legitimate uses, but taking them without a prescription to get high or "self-medicate" can be as dangerous - and addictive - as using street narcotics and other illicit drugs."

Everyone participating in the Dump the Drugs event will receive a free water bottle as a reminder to keep our waters clean and youth safe. Participants can also enter their name in a drawing for a $200 Wal-Mart gift card." Anyone having questions may call (928) 708-0100.

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