Drug ‘traffic’ was down and Oxford OPP Inspector Tim Clark was taking a ‘half full’ approach to a comparatively empty pillbox.
“I think it’s good news,” he said Saturday morning during an uneventful third annual Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day at the Canadian Tire parking lot.
By contrast, officers had been much busier during the first two events, in effect, disposal depots for outdated, unused or unwanted prescription drugs that could potentially be misused.
Common prescription drugs on that list are opioid pain relievers (such as oxycodone), anti-depressants, and stimulants. Recent studies indicate 24% of teens reported misusing prescription medications at least once within the previous year. Most of the teens took the medication from their family home. The theft, or sale of prescription medications has also become an issue of concern and attention for law enforcement officers.
The OPP hosted 19 events in the ‘West’ region Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of a province-wide initiative supported by the OPP, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), the Government of Ontario, and Public Safety Canada.
Oxford OPP Constable Lisa Narancsik recalls a garbage bag full being turned in last year at an event in Drumbo, comparing that to Saturday morning’s meager haul.
“I’m thinking people have cleaned out their cupboards,” she said. “If people aren’t bringing them in, hopefully that means they have already brought them in.”
“We hope so, we hope that’s what it is,” echoed Clark. “The big thing is public safety, avoiding overdose death and kids being affected by drugs they shouldn’t be taking.”
The prior two events were two-pronged said Detective Constable Derrick Harrison, drop-off combined with public education on the fact people can take unwanted prescription drugs back to their pharmacy at any time.
“They don’t have to wait for this once a year.”
There has also been an effective broader media campaign on the subject, said Clark, which has apparently opened eyes and paid dividends.
“Maybe parents and grandparents are being a bit more cautious with these drugs.”
And if that translates into redundancy for annual prescription drug drop-offs in favour of responsible up-to-date disposal, that is all part of a bigger plan, says Clark.
“Maybe we’re working our way out of having these drop-off days. That is a good thing and a positive thing – it all goes with education and public awareness.”