Nine middle school children were taken to a hospital in Bremerton, Wash., yesterday after taking drugs such as the painkiller Oxycontin that had been distributed by two boys but were prescribed to a parent.
None of the students were seriously harmed, but nearby Scott Depuy, whose son Ryan overdosed in 2008 on a mixture of painkillers, cough syrup, and anti-anxiety pills at the age of 17, decided it was time to talk to the press:
The drug dealers are in our houses now. We are the drug dealers right now. We're very good about locking up our firearms. People don't realize what's in that prescription bottle. We're talking about the same thing...It's sitting in your house like a time bomb.
The incident at Mountain View Middle School serves as a strangely well-timed billboard for the national "Take Back" initiative to launch this Saturday by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Take Back drop boxes will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in roughly 3,500 locations nationwide in the hopes of anonymously collecting prescription and over-the-counter solid dosage medications that are expired, unwanted, or unused. In Florida alone--where "pain clinics" have been the subject of documentaries such as "The Oxycontin Express" on rising addiction and overdose rates in the state--140 drop boxes will be available, with the National Guard called in to help oversee the operation.
"These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety," according to the DEA Web site.
Intravenous solutions, injectables, and needles, as well as any illicit drugs, will not be accepted.
The initiative highlights the reality that a drug's status as legal or illegal does not necessarily qualify it as safe or unsafe. Interestingly the DEA, in launching the initiative, is fully admitting so.
Search for a drop box near you here.