Drug take-back set for April 30 in Walla Walla

Participants can drop off unused prescription drugs, as well as turn in old cell phones.


WALLA WALLA -- The second round of national "Prescription Take Back Day" will have a new ring to it locally.

The public can come to the Walla Walla Police Department on April 30 and turn in prescription drugs no longer needed or with expired use-by dates. No questions are asked and everything is disposed of through environmentally-safe methods.

And this year officials are calling for folks to bring in their discarded cellphones at the same time, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the department on Third Avenue and Rose Street.

Participants will help build a local cellphone bank that gives out mobile phones that dial out to 911 in an emergency situation for use by a victim of domestic violence or a senior citizen who is in need.

"When we get a full box of discarded cellphones, we send off the phones and, in return, Walla Walla can order free, reconditioned phones," explained Vicki Ruley, event coordinator.

The donated phones are cleared of personal information and discarded in an eco-safe method or refurbished, according to CellPhonebank.org. The number of phones sent in by an organization is "deposited," and then that same number is available for "withdrawal."

Those phones will be distributed in Walla Walla through the YWCA and the office of Aging and Long Term Care.

That gets unused products into the right hands, while the prescription gathering day gets old products out of the wrong hands.

In 2010, the event garnered more than 100 pounds of drugs. Local efforts were a collaboration between city and county agencies, as well as community groups concerned about the epidemic of prescription drug misuse and addiction.

In its first year, the day was a two-pronged approach to drug safety, Ruley said. Improper disposal of both prescription and over-the-counter medications causes contamination in waterways when drugs are sent down the drain. As well, putting pills into the garbage can out them into the hands of drug seekers.

The biggest victory, however, is getting expired and no-longer-used prescription drugs out of cupboards and away from the wrong users. Addicts often favor pain relievers such as OxyContin, codeine and Vicodin, Ruley said before last year's event. Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington state and youth admissions to state-funded treatment for prescription opiates are 19 times higher than in 2001.

Done in much the same ways across the nation, the total September effort resulted in 121 tons of prescription drugs turned over to officials in a single day,

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.


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