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Drug Take Back: A Com­mu­ni­ty Initiative

By: Eric Bara­nows­ki, KYC’s Sub­stance Use Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices (SUPS) Team Lead

With Nation­al Recov­ery Month in our rearview mir­ror and with the win­ter months on the hori­zon, now more than ever is a good time to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of using safe pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion prac­tices. Dur­ing the cold­er months, so many peo­ple suf­fer from sea­son­al depres­sion. As we begin to cope with the feel­ings that come with cold weath­er, it’s impor­tant to address how our med­ica­tions prac­tices can keep our com­mu­ni­ty safe. 

Since the pan­dem­ic start­ed, feel­ings of anx­i­ety and depres­sion have cer­tain­ly increased. Nir­mi­ta Pan­chal of the Amer­i­can Coun­sel­ing Asso­ci­a­tion states that today, 1 in 4 Amer­i­can adults report feel­ings of anx­i­ety or depres­sion. Peo­ple are feel­ing stressed, and the rate of using sub­stances to cope is increas­ing too. In the same study, Pan­chal reports that 13% of U.S. adults report­ed a new or increase in Sub­stance Use due to COVID-19-relat­ed stress. While the data is alarm­ing, it hits home at the com­mu­ni­ty level. 

Accord­ing to the 2020 Illi­nois Youth Sur­vey of 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade stu­dents in Cook Coun­ty Non-Chicago: 

  • 9% report there is lit­tle to no risk when using pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions not pre­scribed to them. 
  • 20% report it would be sort of,” or very,” easy to get pre­scrip­tion drugs not pre­scribed to them. 
  • 52% report their par­ents have not talked with them about using opi­oids for non-med­ical reasons. 

There is a lack of infor­ma­tion for stu­dents to learn about the impli­ca­tions of using pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions for non-med­ical rea­sons. It starts with safe med­ica­tion prac­tices at home: use med­ica­tions as direct­ed; store med­ica­tions safe­ly; dis­pose of med­ica­tions properly. 

With more adults strug­gling with men­tal health, the safe use of pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions must be part of the con­ver­sa­tion. Drug Take Back Day is a nation­wide ini­tia­tive that pro­motes safe dis­pos­al of pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion. Occur­ring in Octo­ber and April every year, Drug Take Back Day aims to pro­vide a con­ve­nient way for peo­ple to dis­pose of their pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion, instead of hav­ing moun­tains of emp­ty or expired pill bot­tles in their med­i­cine cabinets.

Take Back Bin

Twice a year, Ken­neth Young Cen­ter part­ners with the Elk Grove Police Depart­ment to pro­mote the ini­tia­tive. This year on Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 23rd, from 10 AM — 2 PM, meet us out there again! Last year we col­lect­ed 115 pounds of med­ica­tions. While we’re there, we share the mes­sage that med­ica­tions can be dropped off year-round, not just twice a year. We have a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Pala­tine Police Depart­ment in the works and are plan­ning to be at that loca­tion on the same day, at the same time. 

While we love to show our sup­port by being out in our com­mu­ni­ty, we are work­ing to obtain our own drop-box at our Elk Grove office, locat­ed on Rohlwing Road, in hopes of mak­ing the event more acces­si­ble. This ini­tia­tive can only grow stronger and make our com­mu­ni­ty safer with more com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers involved.

We would love to see you on Octo­ber 23rd, so please be on the look­out for more infor­ma­tion by fol­low­ing our Com­mu­ni­ties for Pos­i­tive Youth Devel­op­ment Coali­tion pages (@cpyd.coalition) on Insta­gram, Face­book, and Twit­ter.

Feel free to email the Sub­stance Use Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Team with any ques­tions at ericb@​kennethyoung.​org or vis­it cpy​d​coali​tion​.org/​d​r​u​g​-​t​a​k​e​-back.


Pan­chal, N., Kamal, R., & Cox, C. (2021). The Impli­ca­tions of COVID-19 for Mental 

Health and Sub­stance Use. Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion. Pub­lished. https://​www​.kff​.org/​c​o​r​o​n​aviru…

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As KYC celebrates 50 years of service to our communities, we're honored to highlight 50 stories, events, and initiatives like Drug Take Back Day through our #KYC50For50 campaign.

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