Las Vegas, N.M – The San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Highlands University are sponsoring a day for the community to come together to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
The Drug Take Back/Family Fun Day is Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Highlands University’s Melody Park.
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 collaborative effort between many different agencies in San Miguel County,” Martínez said. “Thanks to the planning committee, turnout was high for our first drug take back in October 2016 and second event in April 2017.”
The combined totals for the October 2016 and April 2017 drug take-back events include 172 pounds of prescription drugs accepted and 390 community members participating.
“The New Mexico Department of Health and other data sources rank San Miguel County as one of the highest in the state for teenagers using prescription drugs to get high. A major concern is that prescription painkillers, including opioids like Oxycodone and Percocet, are highly addictive,” Martínez said.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths related to prescription drug use are seeing a sharp increase nationwide.
“This national opioid crisis is gaining greatly increased attention. In New Mexico, other rural counties are using our drug take-back event as a model,” Martínez said.
“Bringing families together in a welcoming event like this is very impactful because it creates an environment with less stigma for talking about substance abuse issues,” said Latasha Burbank, HU-CARES center advocate. “We want families to be more aware of local resources related to health and wellness. There will be 37 tables with information and activities.”
Burbank 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.
People may also bring used diabetic needles for disposal.
“Events like these also help law enforcement and other first responders build community relationships,” Martínez said.
There will be free hotdogs and popcorn, as well as food to purchase. There will also be raffles and free giveaways.
The San Miguel County DWI Program is providing go-kart rides for the event. The Elks Lodge #408 will sponsor games like ring tosses. The National Guard will have a rock wall for climbing, and there be volleyball games.
Primary sponsors funding the event include the Mora, San Miguel and Guadalupe Counties Local Collaborative 4; the Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center, and Vida Encantada Nursing and Rehabilitation.
The 35-member San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition was established in 2014 after Highlands received a federal Office of Substance Abuse Prevention grant. The university administers the grant.
For more information about the Oct. 28 Drug Take Back/Fun Event, contact Martínez at 505-454-3518 or firstname.lastname@example.org In case of inclement weather the event will be in the university’s Sala de Madrid Building, 801 University Ave.