Police collecting unwanted drugs

Those old prescription bottles of painkillers or sleeping pills might come in handy on a rainy day, but they are also an attractive nuisance for young people or adults with drug abuse issues, according to Laguna Beach Police Det. Larry Bammer.

Many people are reluctant to throw pills like Vicodin, Xanax and Oxycontin into the trash, and in any case that's not the best way to dispose of them, Bammer said.

To help community members dispose of the medications properly, the Police Department is participating in the first nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, in conjunction with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The drug take-back day will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Laguna Beach Unified School District parking lot, 550 Blumont St. Drugs may be dropped off with no questions asked. The drugs will be turned over to the DEA for destruction.

Bammer, an undercover narcotics officer, said he has seen many cases of young people in trouble due to drugs they obtained from their parents' medicine cabinets. Two teenagers in Laguna Beach have died from overdosing on Oxymorphone, a highly addictive painkiller, he added.

"In Laguna Beach, a lot of kids are stealing prescription medications from their parents, so we want to do a spring cleaning, so they [the drugs] are not accessible to those who would abuse them," Bammer said.

The drug take-back is free and anonymous. Local agencies and health facilities have been invited to set up tables with information about their services and referrals for those who need help with a drug problem, Bammer said.

If someone wants to turn over marijuana, Ecstasy or another illicit drug, they can do that as well, no questions asked. Those drugs will be handled by the local police, not the DEA.

Expired, unwanted or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications, such as cold remedies, will be accepted. Intravenous solutions, injectibles and syringes will not be accepted due to potential hazards.

All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in consumer containers will be accepted. Liquid products, such as cough syrup, should remain sealed in their original container.

The drug take-back is a national effort to reduce prescription drug abuse. Other local events will take place in Irvine and Laguna Hills, Bammer said.

"Working together with our state and local partners, the medical community, anti-drug coalitions, and the concerned public, we will eliminate a major source of abused prescription drugs, and reduce the hazard they pose to our families and communities in a safe, legal, and environmentally sound way," Michele Leonhard, acting administrator of the DEA, said in a news statement.

Other participants in the anti-drug abuse initiative include the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, the National Assn. of Attorneys General, the National Assn. of Boards of Pharmacy, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and the National District Attorneys Assn.

For more information, contact Bammer at (949) 497-0373 or lbammer@lagunabeachcity.net.

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