In April, a Memphis woman called police after her son, 28-year-old Charlie Boyd, stole Xanax she’d hidden in her bra while she was sleeping. Officers found Boyd hiding under a neighbor’s vehicle.
Though Boyd’s mother was wise enough to hide her pills, many parents don’t realize their children may be sneaking prescription drugs from the family medicine chest.
That’s one reason why the Memphis Police Department (MPD) is asking local residents to turn over any expired or unused prescription drugs during their fi rst pill collection on Saturday, September 25th. Dubbed “Operation Pill Take Back,” the eff ort is part of a national attempt by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prevent family members — especially teenagers — from abusing leftover and expired pills.
“This is is a free and anonymous service that will keep homes safe and could potentially save lives,” said Lt. Mike Shearin of the MPD’s Organized Crime Unit. “No questions will be asked.”
According to Shearin, prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country with roughly 6.2 million Americans over the age of 12 abusing prescription drugs every year. In Memphis, police have found that citizens most commonly abuse painkillers such as Lortab, stimulants like Adderall, and sedatives like Xanax.
The DEA is especially concerned with teen abuse of prescription drugs. According to Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teens has tried prescription medication to get high. Forty percent of teens believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
“We talk a lot about drugs like meth in Memphis, but we’re trying to communicate that prescription drug abuse is just as dangerous, if not more so,” Shearin said.
Though some people flush expired or unused pills down the toilet, the Environmental Protection Agency advises against that practice since it can discharge potentially harmful chemicals into lakes, rivers, and oceans. e pills collected by the MPD will be sent to the DEA for incineration. Said Shearin: “I’m no scientist, but I know it’s better for the environment to let us incinerate these drugs.”
Memphis police will collect pills at four area Kroger locations — 3444 Plaza Ave., 1234 Finley Rd., 676 N. Germantown Pkwy., and 3860 Austin Peay Hwy. — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 25th.