Unbeknownst to parents, some kids raid the medicine cabinets for unused prescription pills and sell them, swallow them, or both.
On Wednesday, April 8, parents are invited to clear their cabinets during Dump the Drugs day.
Residents can dispose of their unused prescription drugs at the Payson Fire Department stations on Main Street and Rancho Road or the Hellsgate Fire Department on Highway 260 from 7:30 a.m. to noon.
Organized drug dumping days are the best way to throw away unused pills, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler. Flushing pills down the toilet can contaminate the water supply, and leaving them in the cabinet can lead to kids stealing them.
“We view it as a serious problem because it does involve some youth in our local community,” Engler said.
“I’m very concerned we’re going to have a young person overdose to the point where it could become fatal. It would be a terrible thing to happen in our community.”
In 2008 and so far this year, 26 people have been arrested for prescription drug violations, according to Engler.
A Wednesday assembly at Rim Country Middle School will run from 12:45 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. where students will see a worst-case pill-popping scenario unfold, said GEAR UP Intervention Specialist Kristi Ford.
The assembly shows the ramifications of a child swallowing pills, which then necessitates a trip to the emergency room. Police arrest the kid who sold the pills, and the audience can comprehensively witness the medical and criminal consequences of illegally taking prescription medications.
“They think it’s legal, but it’s not,” said Ford. “You cannot share prescription drugs. What is prescribed for one person taken by a person who weighs 100 pounds less could kill them,” said Ford.
Ford said that while prescription drug use has quietly infiltrated school campuses in Payson, its low-key nature makes the problem doubly dangerous to treat. Adults discover students take pills through “erratic behavior” or when other kids tell, Ford said.
“If we don’t know what they’ve taken, that’s really scary.” A student may think they have taken one drug when, in reality, it’s another. And, if a student drinks alcohol in addition to the pill, Ford said dangers are compounded.
“The whole point is to get drugs off the streets,” Ford said.
Wednesday’s event is sponsored by GEAR UP, an academic intervention grant, the Payson Police Department, the Payson Regional Medical Center and the Payson Public Schools.