MINERAL WELLS - Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in West Virginia and across the nation, but people will have the chance to take a number of prescription drugs out of the picture this Saturday, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia said Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II appeared at the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department with representatives of the fire department, the Wood County Sheriff's Department and the Parkersburg Police Department to announce the local participation in the Drug Enforcement Administration's Drug Take Back Day program.
"Prescription drug abuse is a terrible danger to everyone," Goodwin said. "It is an absolute epidemic.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II , center, appeared at the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday to announce the local participation in the national Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Take Back Day this Saturday. Also pictured are Sgt. Greg Collins of the Parkersburg Police Department, Chief Tax Deputy Denny Huggins with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department, Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy, Mineral Wells VFD Chief Jay Parsons and Mineral Wells VFD President Ed Sheppard.
"It easily drives 80-90 percent of our property crimes. It is a plague that has reached deep into our families and our communities and torn families apart."
This Saturday, stations will be set up nationwide where people can drop off their old medications to be properly disposed of.
There will be eight stations set up in Wood County from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday where people can drop off their old prescription drugs. These include the Mineral Wells VFD station, the West Virginia State Police barracks, the Vienna Fire Department, the Williamstown Fire Department, the Waverly Fire Department, the Lubeck Fire Department, the Parkersburg Fire Department near Parkersburg South High School and in the horseshoe drive at the Memorial Campus of the Camden Clark Medical Center.
"Those locations will have law-enforcement officers there to pick up your drugs," Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy said.
Wood County has usually ranked first or second in the state with prescription drug collections, he said. For those who cannot get out Saturday to drop their prescription drugs off, the Wood County Sheriff's Department has been designated by the DEA as a drop-off point throughout the year. Those drugs will be kept in a secure location and added to the Take Back collections, Sandy said.
Painkillers are the biggest group of prescription drugs being abused, officials said, adding people who have fallen victim to it are those who would never have fallen prey to other drugs, like crack, meth or cocaine.
With many illegal drugs, there is that legal barrier that has prevented some people from taking them up.
"That was always a significant line to cross," Goodwin said. "With prescription drugs you don't have that. That is why it is so devastating."
Of prescription drug abuse, 70 percent comes from friends and family and straight out of the family medicine cabinet.
"It is critical to cut off that source of supply," Goodwin said. "This is an easy way for people to do it."
With the availability of prescription drugs, the U.S. Attorney's office has been prosecuting doctors who run pill mills and people who smuggle prescription drugs across state lines as well as educating young people. Goodwin spent part of the day Tuesday talking with students in Jackson County about prescription drug abuse.
"One way to prevent prescription drug abuse is proper disposal," he said. "Everyone can do something about this problem."
Last October, over 3,100 pounds of prescription drugs were collected statewide during the Take-Back Day with Goodwin saying it has continued to grow over the last couple of years the program has been in place.
Many times, people have found these drugs just rummaging through someone's medical cabinet while others are targeted because of ailments they may suffer and drugs prescribed for those ailments.
Goodwin said it is important to get these drugs out of circulation.
"We would encourage everyone to reach into their medicine cabinets, look through it and see if you have any unused prescription drugs and get them out of there," Goodwin said. "They are doing nothing but gathering dust and providing the potential for illicit use."
People can find out where drop-off stations are in their area by going to www.dea.gov.