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Take Back Day a first, and a success

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Posted: Saturday, April 28, 2012 1:31 pm | Updated: 7:06 am, Mon Apr 30, 2012.

Lodi resident Winnie Fair dropped off dozens of prescription pills she had been accumulating since 1994 at the Lodi Police Department on Saturday.

Fair was one of more than 100 people who stopped by the department to drop off unused or expired prescription medication that had languished in their homes for months or even years. It was the department’s first time participating in an event known as “Take Back Day.”

The collection, part of a nationwide campaign sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is meant to help combat prescription medication dependence and abuse by removing the drugs from the streets.

Some of the most addictive pills were splayed out on a table in the department’s Community Room where the collection was held — anything from OxyContin to Hydrocodone.

Apart from marijuana, prescription pills are the most popular drugs abused by people ages 12 and older, according to data released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Those who chose to drop off unused and expired medication Saturday had a myriad of reasons for doing so. For Fair, it was because she was allergic to a majority of the medication she was turning over.

Accumulating the pills for 18 years, Fair said she was not sure where she could dispose of her old medications. However, a friend had called her and told her about the event Saturday, so Fair decided to finally get rid of her impressive pill collection.

Fair said that following the drop-off she is planning to make a chart of all the medications she is allergic to, so in the future she will know what she can and cannot take.

Constance Gerbi of San Joaquin County Solid Waste said people who came to the police department Saturday showed up with spouses and even their mothers, and sometimes just by themselves.

Gerbi said the county was looking to see not only what kinds of pills and medical-related items were dropped off — one woman brought in several containers of needles — but also where the pills came from and how people heard about the event.

One woman brought in medication that dated all the way back to 1972. Another man brought in two giant glass jars containing hundreds of prescription pills he and his wife had collected over the past five years.

Two University of the Pacific students were on hand to answer questions people has regarding the status of their medications. They also helped weigh full containers of prescription medication, roughly 10 of which were collected Saturday.

Det. Nick Rafiq and Det. Kari Locaso of the Lodi Police Department were also there to pull a few samples of medications that could be used for training purposes at a later time.

Pills like OxyContin are not only difficult to find because pharmaceutical companies no longer produce them on a large scale, but are also extremely addictive if put in the wrong hands.

“It is rare that we get an opportunity like this,” Rafiq said. “We send what we collect (on the job) to the DEA. But we get to use some of what we find here to educate others later on.”

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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