National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday |

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday

— Local organizers of a prescription drug disposal program hope to rid the community of unused medications with a goal of saving lives.

Unused prescription drugs are finding their way from medicine cabinets and drawers to the hands of children and teens, said Ronna Autrey, director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide.

"Kids are taking their parents' drugs out of the medicine cabinet," Autrey said. "Three of this, three of that. They put it in a bowl, take handfuls and wash it down with booze. We're gonna lose a kid."

Autrey said she has heard about so-called "Skittle parties" taking place in Steamboat.

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition cites a 2009 Denver survey that found that more than 33 percent of high school students had abused prescription medication. Also in 2009, 70 percent of drug-related deaths were caused by prescription drug abuse.

Preventing the recreational use of prescription drugs is just one of the goal's of Saturday's local National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. The event also is taking place in Craig at Centennial Mall.

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During the most recent prescription drug take back day in September, Routt County residents cleaned out their medicine cabinets and disposed of 35 pounds of unused and expired medications. There were 242,000 pounds of medication collected nationwide.

"If you think about the size of the pill containers and the weight, it's phenomenal when you think about it," Autrey said.

The program is organized nationally by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Before its involvement, Autrey launched the program in Steamboat three years ago through her suicide awareness organization as a way to limit the accessibility of sometimes-lethal prescription drugs.

"People with deep depression often will self-medicate with drugs and alcohol," Autrey said.

REPS and Grand Futures is hosting Saturday's event with the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

"Pharmaceutical drugs are one of the most abused drugs out there," Steamboat police Capt. Joel Rae said. "It's a common drug that is abused by teenagers and adults."

Rae said Saturday's event is a way for people to dispose of drugs safely. It's not recommended to flush the pills down the toilet or dispose of them in landfills because the chemicals could end up in water supplies, Rae said.

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