Lubbock prescription drug take back aims to stop medication misuse, reduce crime

Curbing misuse of prescription drugs

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Lubbock Spine Institute has joined forces with the Lubbock Police Department to ensure that prescription medication doesn’t fall into the hands of the wrong people who may unintentionally or purposefully misuse the drugs, leading to an already increasing amount of crime involving such medication.

“You see a lot of people that misuse prescription medications,” Lubbock Spine Institute’s Dr. Bolkar Sahinler said. “About half of them start with a prescription medication that their friend has in a cabinet or their family member has their cabinet. Getting those medications out of easy access would most likely save a lot of heartache and headache down the road.”

Dr. Sahinler tells KCBD around 1,600 young adults begin misusing prescription drugs each day. He hopes a drug take back day will give the community the opportunity to get rid of any excess, unused or expired medication that would otherwise add to the problem.

The event has been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 11 from noon to 3 p.m. at 3419 22nd Street.

“Prescription medications are prescriptions for a reason,” Dr. Sahinler said. “Keeping them at your house and waiting to doctor yourself in the future for symptoms you might or might not know where they are coming from is not very optimal. If you do have a medicine that is not prescribed for you right now for a certain problem and it’s just sitting there, it’s time to get rid of it.”

The Lubbock Police Department will take possession of drugs dropped off at the event. Chief Greg Stevens tells KCBD the medication is, in most instances, incinerated or shipped elsewhere for disposal.

“What we see too often is that people will leave, especially pain killers in their medicine cabinets, drawers or what have you, and that allows, especially young people but anyone, visitors or whoever, or burglars for that matter, to get a hold of them,” Chief Stevens said. “That’s really what we have seen and how, initially, people become addicted to such substances.”

According to Chief Stevens, crime involving the abuse of medications is more prevalent than people realize and increasingly officers are coming across thieves or even folks involved in traffic stops who have medication, especially pain killers and other opiates, that don’t belong to them.

“Often we work a burglary case and what we see missing a lot is prescription medication,” Chief Stevens said. “The best way for us to begin to control that is the simple step of disposing of medication that you no longer need or that is in excess of what is prescribed.”

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has hosted a similar drug take back event for 10 years in Lubbock. The next event will be April 27.

Professor of Pharmacy Practice Charles Seifert said doctors are concerned about over-prescribing medication and have begun to control that practice, especially the prescribing of opioids for chronic pain.

TTUHSC uses the drug take back events to gather data and research the trends of what medication comes from households.

“We have some patients that have died but continue to receive drugs,” Seifert said. "So, the family members are sitting there and drugs that could be diverted or abused are coming in to the home."

Seifert said $10,000 worth of Fentanyl was brought in to be disposed at one event two years ago. The Fentanyl was in the form of lollipops that were used by a cancer patient.

According to TTUHSC, clearing out medicine storage will also avoid any unintentional confusion among the elderly when taking their medication.

“[The drug take back event] focuses on the fact that pharmacists, schools of pharmacy, they can help with the opioid crisis in multiple ways and also help with poison prevention with children and therapeutic misadventures in older adults.”

The event at the Lubbock Spine Institute is free and will include the opportunity to enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers.

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