Back Trainings


We offer a broad range of trainings that support the long-term behavioral health and wellbeing of all New Mexicans. Together we can make things better.
Back Research & Publications

Research & Publications

Back Advocacy


Back About CHI-PHI


As New Mexico's public health institute we believe in – and deeply value – the power of community in creating wellbeing, resilience, diversity, inclusivity and equity. About CHI-PHI
Back Partner with us

Partner with us

Home » Uncategorized » Drug Take Back Day collects nearly 900 pounds of unused medications

Drug Take Back Day collects nearly 900 pounds of unused medications

UP! Coalition’s Alyssa Myrick (center) joined Sunland Park Officers Armando Duran (right) and Officer Lucas Alvarez (left) for Drug Take Back Day in October. Sunland Park residents safely disposed of almost 24 pounds of medications during the 4-hour event.

Friday, November 1; Las Cruces, NM: Doña Ana County residents safely disposed of 896 pounds of medications at the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Drug Take Back Day held the last Saturday of October. DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day is a twice annual opportunity for the anonymous disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications, assuring that they do not fall into the wrong hands.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Dona Ana County hosted 14 sites from Hatch to Sunland Park and Mesilla to Chaparral, including seven sites in the Las Cruces metro-area.

Hatch Police Department’s Monica Olvera said, “It was great to see the community participate in this event, we had a great turnout.”

“This event can only be as successful as we have seen in our county by collaborating with a variety of partners,” said Alyssa Myrick, program specialist for the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County which helps coordinate Drug Take Back Day efforts.

“Leading up to Take Back Day, Coalition partners countywide spread the word and encouraged community members to partake,” adds Myrick.

The Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces hosted and promoted two locations to residents at San Ezequiel Moreno Catholic Church and Our Lady of Purification Catholic Church.

“Oñate High School’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) Pre-Pharmacy students were out in full force across the county educating community members on safe opioid storage and disposal and handing out Deterra bags,” says Myrick.

Deterra bags are drug deactivation kits that rendering medication inactive, unavailable for misuse and safe for the environment. This gives residents an option for safe disposal between Take Back Day events, which happen each April and October.

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

More people accidentally die from prescription painkillers than all other drugs combined according to Dose of Realty New Mexico, the state’s opioid prevention and resource connection website.  That’s why disposing of unused prescription medications is so important, proper disposal keeps medications, especially opioids and painkillers, from being misused or abused.

It is recommended that opioids and other painkillers be stored in a safe place and out of the reach of children, preferably in a secure and locked location.

UP! Coalition Chair Dr. Edward Rubin said, “The twice-yearly Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the DEA and local law enforcement agencies has long been supported by the UP! Coalition.  It provides an immediate benefit to our community be getting thousands of pounds of old, expired or unused medication off our streets.  This prevents improper disposal, theft or diversion.”

“Take Back Day is a day to emphasis community-police partnerships with the mutual goal of safety,” said Anthony Police Chief Vanessa Lara.

“This is a day in which we share a common goal to bring awareness and prevent the abuse of medications.” Chief Lara added, “Over 40 lbs. of medications from Anthony residents were safely turned over to the DEA.”

Sunland Park Police Department noted a record-breaking increase of 20 lbs. of medications collected this Take Back Day. This success was achieved alongside a collaboration with the Sunland Park Fire Department, who work closely with local law enforcement.

“We always look forward to Take Back Day in our community,” says Sunland Park Police Chief Javier Guerra. “More and more community members are learning about this program and how important it is to get these unused medications disposed of safely.”

New Mexico State Police Lieutenant Ricky Herrera said, “National Drug Take Back Day is perfect opportunity for the community to engage with Law Enforcement or medical professionals about the proper storage and disposal of expired or used medications.”

This was the Mesilla Marshal’s first time participating in Drug Take Back Day and collected over 12 pounds of medications.

“The town of Mesilla is a community with a large populous of aging citizens and with this comes all the health issues one comes across as one ages,” said Mesilla Acting Marshal Enrique Salas.

“Sometimes our citizens end up with an overabundance of medications and may not know what exactly to do with the excess. Take Back Day creates an opportunity for our citizens to turn in any unwanted medications they may have and not know what to do with or they may not know how to properly dispose of them. This is one answer for them.”

“We work closely with, and are grateful to, our many community partners for their ongoing commitment and support of a safer community,” added Rubin.

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

“The Dona Ana County Sheriff has been participating with the National Drug Take Back Day for the past 10 years, and the Sheriff’s Department partnered up with the Unified Prevention Coalition to install a permanent Drug Disposal Box in the front lobby of the Sheriff’s Department,” says Doña Ana Sheriffs office Sgt. Michelle Ugalde. 

This permanent drop box is available throughout the year at Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, 845 N. Motel Boulevard in Las Cruces. Another green MedReturns kiosk is located at the Hatch Police Department, 5 Chile Capital Lane.

For more information on why medication disposal is important visit Dose of Reality New Mexico:

For more information on the UP! Coalition contact Alyssa Myrick at (575) 597-0024 or email: or visit their website:

This news release is made available by the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, a program of the Center for Health Innovation, and funded by the New Mexico Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP).