May 24, 2010 (La Mesa) – Councilmember Ernest Ewin has proposed that La Mesa create a program to encourage residents to turn in unused and expired prescription drugs and also launch a “No Drugs Down the Toilet or Drain” campaign. The proposal will be considered by Council on Tuesday, May 25 during the Council meeting starting at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
“Prescription drugs have long been recognized as a threat to child health and related criminal activity,” Ewin wrote in a memo to the Mayor and members of the City Council. “Also, drugs in landfills, our streams, bays and ocean are also of concern.”
Ewin will ask the Council for support to Direct the City Manager to report on the ability to organize a program that would include creating one or more safe/secure drop-off locations and partnering with local businesses that dispense prescription drugs to accept the return of unwanted drugs for safe disposal. Ewin hopes to model the program after a similar one implemented by the San Diego Sheriff and to link with neighboring cities in East County.
According to the Sheriff’s website:
- Teens feel using RX drugs to get high is "much safer" than street drugs, and because they are prescribed, 1/3 believe RX painkillers are not dangerous or addictive.
- It is estimated that almost 30 million people used prescription drugs non-medically in 2009, and of those, 1.5 million were dependent on them.
- Prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug behind marijuana in juveniles ages 12-17 and most commonly abused among 12-13 year olds.
- For the first time, there are just as many new abusers (12 and older) of prescription drugs as there are for marijuana.
- Teens ages 12-17 have the second-highest annual rates of prescription drug abuse after young adults and are turning away from street drugs and using prescription drugs to get high.