Prescription Drug Take Back/Family Fun Day October 26  

Photo of Desiree Martínez

Desiree Martínez

Oct. 9, 2019

Las Vegas, N.M – New Mexico Highlands University and the San Miguel Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition are sponsoring a day for the community to come together Oct. 26 to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

The sixth Drug Take Back/Family Fun Day is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Highlands University’s Melody Park. There will be free hot dogs, live music, games for children, a fall photobooth, and more.

Desiree Martínez, HU–CARES prevention coordinator at Highlands, is helping organize the event on behalf of the San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

“This event is a very strong collaboration effort between many different agencies in San Miguel County,” Martínez said. “More than 400 people attended our fifth drug take back in April. We’ve collected more than 900 pounds of prescription drugs since our first take back in October 2016.”

Martínez said that according to the New Mexico Department of Health, San Miguel County is ranked in the top five counties in the state for opioid related problems like drug overdose deaths and opioid overdose related visits to hospital emergency rooms.

“In San Miguel County, we dropped from being number one in the state for teens getting high using painkillers in 2014 to number 22 in 2017.”  Martínez said. “I think it shows that our prevention efforts are working.”

She said prescription painkillers, including opioids like oxycodone and Percocet, are highly addictive and their illicit use is a nationwide epidemic.

Martínez said Clarence Romero, chief of police at Highlands, has played an important role in the successful drug take backs.

“Our drug take back has become a model event both nationally and in New Mexico,” Romero said.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency protocol will be used for safely collecting the materials in drop boxes. The Highlands campus police turns the boxes over to the DEA.


There will also be raffles and free giveaways at the event. The San Miguel County DWI Program is providing interactive games promoting substance abuse awareness and the local Elks Club will have its Drug Awareness Trailer on-site.


“We want to give kids and their families an event where they can learn and have fun together,” Martínez said. “We want families to become more familiar with resources available in the area. More than 30 community agencies are participating. These kind of events also help law enforcement and first responders build upon their community relationships.”

Primary sponsors funding the event include the Mora, San Miguel and Guadalupe counties Local Collaborative 4 and the Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center.

The 35-member San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition was established in 2014 after Highlands received a New Mexico Office of Substance Abuse prevention grant. Martínez coordinates the grant.

For information about the Oct. 26 Drug Take Back/Family Fun event, contact Martínez at 505-454-3518 or If the weather is inclement, the event will be in the university’s John Wilson Complex at 1241 9th St.