Two free events April 25 and April 27 draw focus on troubling trend

San Rafael, CA – Two free events coming up in Marin County are designed to increase awareness of the abuse of prescription drugs, which have reached alarming rates all over America.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is among the sponsors of “Raising Resilient Youth,”scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Marin County Office of Education in San Rafael. Two days later is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Annual Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27, which will include multiple dropoff locations in Marin.

“Marin’s rates of substance abuse are higher than most California communities, and the problem impacts all of us. We need to talk openly about this.” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer. “At both events, the message is that there are some simple steps we can take to do better. “Getting rid of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted medications is one important way we can protect our young people.”

Nationally known speakers Joseph Green, Nadine Machkovech and Anthony Alvarado are set to appear at the April 25 event, co-sponsored by the Marin County Office of Education, the Marin Prevention Network, LMS Voice, and Rise Together. The MCOE is at 1111 Las Gallinas Road in San Rafael. Although the event is free, online registration is encouraged.

On Take-Back Day, dropoff locations will accept prescriptions drugs, over-the-counter medications and vitamins from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The service is free and anonymous – no questions asked. For environmental reasons, it’s recommended that pills be dropped off in small paper bags (note that dropoff locations cannot accept liquid meds or needles). In addition, Americans are advised that their most common methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards.

There will be dropoff locations throughout Marin including the Novato, San Rafael, Fairfax police departments, and Central Marin Police Authority offices in Larkspur and San Anselmo.

In April 2018, Americans did their part to drop off a record number of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications during the DEA’s Take-Back Day at close to 6,000 sites across the country. More than 8,000 pounds were collected at take-back locations throughout Marin County in 2018.

DEA Drug Take-Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. One in four Marin adults needs help for substance abuse, alcohol abuse or mental health problems, and medications are liberally prescribed to treat those issues. According to a recent study, one in 10 Marin high school juniors reported having taken prescription painkillers recreationally. The study showed that most abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends.

Marin County is committed to solving the opioid and prescription drug epidemic with the assistance of local partners and grassroots community coalitions like RxSafe Marin and the Marin Prevention Network. Opioid overdose remains the leading cause of accidental death in Marin County. RxSafe Marin, which includes the participation of Marin HHS and several other County departments, is working to limit the burden of prescription opioids by promoting safe prescribing by clinicians and increasing opportunities for safe disposal of unused and unwanted medications.