ROSWELL - While thousands of people were enjoying Family Fun Day at Central Park, a few officials with the Forsyth Sheriff’s Office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency were up the hill in the North Precinct trying to make sure it stayed a fun day.
The Forsyth Sheriff’s Office and the city of Roswell were participating in the national Prescription Drug Take Back Day by accepting any prescription drugs, no questions asked, at both the north and south precincts. In just a few hours, Forsyth had accepted 68 pounds of pills taken out of families’ medicine cabinets. Roswell took in 109 pounds.
Forsyth Sheriff’s Investigator Terry Hawkins said the drugs were destroyed by incineration.
Statistics show more people die in Georgia from prescription drug overdose than from illicit drugs. In 2009, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Medical Examiner’s Office reported 86 deaths from illicit drug use alone. Prescription drugs accounted for 508 deaths in the same year.
Bob Christian, a DEA special agent, provided statistics that state one in five teens have reported abusing prescription drugs to get high. One in 10 abuse over-the-counter cough syrups to get high. Problem drugs in metro Atlanta include Oxycontin, Percocet, Methadone, Fentanyl and Xanax.
Not convinced? The GBI reported in July 2009 that prescription drugs were the contributing factor for almost 85 percent of all drug-related deaths in Georgia.
Roswell Detective James McGee said his city saw 46 people turn in five boxes worth of prescription drugs.
“Most of the people we saw were the elderly or those who had sick family members,” McGee said. He added that the event was so successful and popular that Roswell would like to hold the event yearly. “It’s very important to have things like this,” he said.
“The most common way people dispose of their prescription drugs is in the toilet where it can get into the water supply.”
Hawkins said the national take back day was just a start for Forsyth County. Residents also turned in outdated prescription drugs from the home at the Celebrating Safe Communities Community Safety Fair held Saturday, Oct. 2 in Cumming.
In the coming weeks, the Sheriff’s Office will establish permanent “mailbox”-type drop boxes that will allow Forsyth residents to come inside the north and south precincts to rid their homes of unsafe medicine.