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Home » Uncategorized » Drug Take-Back Day collects more than 700 pounds of medication in Doña Ana County

Drug Take-Back Day collects more than 700 pounds of medication in Doña Ana County


Saturday, October 31, 2020; Las Cruces, NM – Doña Ana County residents safely disposed of 753 pounds of medications at the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Take-Back Day held the last Saturday of October.

Due to the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic this year, DEA and local law enforcement hosted DEA National Drug Take-Back Day as a drive-through event for Doña Ana County community members.

DEA’s National Drug Take-Back Day is a bi-annual opportunity for the anonymous disposal of expired, unwanted, or unused medications. The importance of this event is to prevent the misuse of prescription pills of those living in the home by safely disposing of expired or unused medications. 

Local law enforcement agencies throughout Doña Ana County hosted 11 sites from Doña Ana to Santa Teresa and Mesilla to Chaparral, including five locations in the Las Cruces metro-area. The Unified Prevention Coalition of Doña Ana County coordinated and promoted the county-wide event.

Sergeant Michelle Ugalde from the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department said, “I would say it’s always a pleasure to partner with other agencies, DEA and the UP! Coalition to provide an opportunity for the community to get rid of expired or unused medication.”

“This year, everyone expressed a huge thanks for having a place to discard potential harmful medication.,” added Ugalde. “It’s always a great opportunity to have the chance to educate the public about the many reasons it’s good to dispose of medications through this Take-Back event.” 

“The event’s success was due to our community, coalition, and law enforcement support,” said Michelle Rincon, program specialist for the Unified Prevention Coalition, which helped coordinate Drug Take-Back Day. 

Rincon noted that partnership extended to volunteer help from the Organ Mountain High School’s Health Occupations Students of America and New Mexico State University Pre-Pharmacy Student Society, organized by UP! Coalition partner, Amy Buesing, the faculty advisor of the UNM/NMSU Director Cooperative Pharmacy Program. 

The HOSA students volunteered to help make nearly 600 packets of deterra bags and other prevention information material for residents for their Drug Take-Back Day participation. Deterra bags are an easy-to-use system that safely disposes of unwanted or expired prescription painkillers at home.

The Pre-Pharmacy Student Society volunteered at two sites. The student society and law enforcement safely handed out Deterra bags and prevention material to residents who participated.

Buesing said, “We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the UP! Coalition on such an important community initiative. DEA Take Back provides pre-pharmacy students practical experience regarding the importance of safe and timely disposal of outdated or unneeded medication.”

This event was Mesilla’s second time participating in Drug Take-Back Day and collected 30 pounds of medications, more than double what was acquired last year. 

“The event itself is an excellent idea regarding prescription medication disposal. It is critically important for our community to dispose of medications safely to avoid them falling into young hands and prevent any accidental overdoses,” said Mesilla Marshal Edward Lerma. 

Anthony, New Mexico, collected 78 pounds, Doña Ana 104 pounds, and Las Cruces, 541 pounds, which makes for a total of more than 700 pounds collected county-wide.

According to Dose of Reality New Mexico, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death from injury in the state.

More people accidentally die from prescription painkillers than all other drugs combined, according to Dose of Reality New Mexico, the state’s opioid prevention and resource website. Disposing of unused prescription medications is essential because it keeps medications, especially opioids and painkillers, from being misused. 

Opioids and other painkillers are recommended to be stored safely and out of children’s reach, preferably in a secure and locked location.

UP! Coalition Chair Dr. Edward Rubin said, “Take Back Day provides a significant and immeasurable service to our community with several benefits. It allows us to eliminate unused, unwanted, or expired medications from our medicine cabinets, provides a safe way to dispose of these medications without polluting our water and land, and keeps the medications away from curious or inappropriate hands (or mouths), thus preventing accidental overdoses.”

“Over the years, the Unified Prevention Coalition is pleased and proud to join with our law enforcement partners to support this contribution to our community’s safety,” added Rubin.

National Drug Take-Back Day was made possible by Anthony Police Department, DEA Las Cruces, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, Mesilla Marshal’s Department, New Mexico State Police, and the UP! Coalition of Doña Ana County.

For more information on why medication disposal is a significant practice, visit Dose of Reality New Mexico:

This news release is made available by the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, a program of the Center for Health Innovation.