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 April 28 to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
The fourth Drug Take Back/Family Fun Day is 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. “We’ve had good success in our first three drug take-back events dating back to 2016, taking in a total of more than 323 pounds of prescription drugs.”
Martínez said that according to the New Mexico Department of Health, San Miguel County has improved from its top five ranking for opioid abuse in 2014 to its current top 10 ranking in the state.
“We believe our successful local drug take-back events and education outreach are having an impact by promoting awareness, getting people to talk more and take prevention steps in the opioid epidemic,” Martínez said.
She said prescription painkillers, including opioids like oxycodone and Percocet, are highly addictive.
“In San Miguel County, we have a lot of data that shows teenagers are using opioids to get high that they obtained from family members. We’re really pleased that this year several clubs from Robertson High School and West Las Vegas High School have stepped up to volunteer at the drug take-back this year.”
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 epidemic is gaining increasing attention. In New Mexico, other rural counties are using our drug take-back event as a model,” Martínez 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 relationships with the community,” 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. There will also be volleyball games and face painting.
“The idea is to make this a family-friendly event where people can return unwanted drugs and learn more about community resources. Thirty local agencies will be participating,” Martínez said.
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 federal Office of Substance Abuse Prevention grant. The university administers the grant.
For more information about the April 28 Drug Take Back/Family Fun event, contact Martínez at 505-454-3518 or firstname.lastname@example.org In case of inclement weather the event will be in the City of Las Vegas Abe Montoya Recreation Center at 1751 North Grand Ave.