If you’ve ever been sat on by an adult male northern elephant seal, you can imagine the weight of the medications that were collected in Saturday’s three-county Drug Take-Back Event.

Sponsored by nearly three dozen community groups, the Drug Take Back Event collected a total of 4,311 pounds of medications and 1,307 pounds of Sharps at eight sites in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties. That’s 633 pounds more of medications than were collected in a similar effort in October 2018.

Nearly half of the 1,623 participants reported it was their first time attending such an event. Compared with October’s event, the number of participants increased by 250.

“We’re pleased to see awareness is growing, and that people are seeing how important it is to properly dispose of unneeded and outdated medications—both to keep kids safe and to preserve the environment,” said Kelley Groen-Sieckmann, Prevent Coalition project coordinator.

The medications are boxed and transported for incineration by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Locks Save Lives campaign kicks off

Event attendee Marilyn Johnson stands beside a Locks Save Lives sign.

The Take-Back Event also introduced the locally created Locks Saves Lives campaign at three sites, where volunteers encouraged families to lock up prescription medications, for their kids’ sake.

Nearly 100 lockboxes were given to families with youth in grades 6-12 in the home at the PeaceHealth Southwest Urgent Care and Battle Ground Police sites. Washougal Silver Star Search & Rescue promoted the campaign and surveyed participants about locking up their prescription medications.

“The war on drugs belongs to all of us,” said event attendee Marilyn Johnson, a parish nurse coordinator for Southwest Washington and a great-grandmother. “We must participate in any way that fits our circumstances, being aware and careful. Safe management of personal medications is a gift to your children and grandchildren.”

Starting May 1, you can “Take the Pledge to Lock Your Meds” and download a free toolkit for the Locks Save Lives campaign at https://bit.ly/LocksSaveLives. The toolkit is designed as a platform for prevention coalitions and community organizations to implement in their communities. It encourages parents, grandparents and guardians with youth in grades 6-12 in the home to lock up their prescription pain meds to reduce youth access to prescription opioids.

Locks Save Lives has been localized for use in Washington State and includes materials for implementing the campaign nationwide.

It takes a community

The Drug Take-Back events started in 2010 with one Clark County site. This year’s eight-site event is funded in partnership with Washington State Health Care Authority and organized with assistance from the following community partners:

  • Clark County Public Health
  • Clark County Green Neighbors
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • PeaceHealth
  • Battle Ground Police Department
  • Vancouver Police Department
  • Washougal Police Department
  • La Center Police Department
  • Ridgefield Police Department
  • Washougal Silver Star Search and Rescue
  • Skyline Hospital
  • Bingen-White Salmon Police Department
  • Skamania County Sheriff’s Office
  • Goldendale Police Department
  • Walgreens
  • Connect Evergreen
  • La Center United
  • Prevent Coalition
  • Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance
  • Unite! Washougal Community Coalition
  • Connect Evergreen
  • West Van for Youth
  • One Prevention Alliance
  • Our Klickitat Coalition
  • U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration

Our newest community partners are:

  • Americorps
  • Clark College ACES Club
  • Cowlitz Public Safety Department
  • Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health
  • Klickitat Valley Health

Unwanted medications can be disposed of year-round for free at several collection sites across Clark, Skamania and Klickitat Counties. For details on where to drop off medications for safe and proper disposal, visit www.takebackyourmeds.org.

For more information, please visit: