BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Saturday, several communities across Alabama participated in the “National Drug Take-Back Day.”
The Birmingham Police Department had four locations at different precincts where people could go to drop off their unused prescription drugs.
The event was a joint effort between law enforcement, the DEA and the Addiction Prevention Coalition. Organizers provided a place to safely dispose of prescription drugs as well as a place to provide resources for those who are suffering from addiction.
During the last drug take-back day in October of 2020, nearly 500 tons of unwanted drugs were collected in the U.S.
“A lot of people have unused or unopened prescription drugs that they just throw away in the trash can, that they flush down the toilet, and that can be hazardous,” said Gurinder Singh of the Birmingham Police Department.
The annual event also helps push the conversation around prescription drug abuse.
“A lot of prescription drug misuse and abuse begins in friend’s and family’s medicine cabinets and that’s one reason it’s so important for the public to go through and look at your medicine cabinets,” said Prim Escalona, U.S. Attorney – Northern District of Alabama.
During the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in drug abuse. According to the CDC, there have been over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the past year in the U.S. Those trends are seen in Birmingham. as well.
“It’s bad. A lot of people don’t know there is help and a lot of people actually want to help individuals, but it’s all about actually wanting to get help and that’s the biggest thing, to be able to get out of addiction, well that’s what I personally believe,” said Singh.
To help start the conversation around drug abuse, the Addiction Prevention Coalition is providing resources.
“This is what you can do, or this is who you can talk to, or do you have someone to talk to, or would you like me to ask for help with you, so letting them know it’s available because some people just don’t know,” said Adrienne Coleman of the Addiction Prevention Coalition.
Coleman says her team has been focusing on the youth in the community, opening the door to conversations around mental health as an effort to help prevent drug abuse.
“Get them those resources, get the parents involved, and let them know what the signs and symptoms are and what to look for in their children as well as what’s going on with mom and dad,” said Coleman.