What is Dispose-A-Med program?

Dispose-A-Med is a Pima County outreach program made up of concerned citizens focused on minimizing the abuse of prescription medications by teens and preventing accidental drug poisoning of children and the elderly.

By providing a safe and effective method of drug disposal, the Dispose-A-Med program reduces the introduction of pollutants into the environment and helps ensure high quality water in the aquifer. 

In 2009, the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (RWRD) began an educational campaign to reduce the flushing of unused prescription medications into the public sewer system by both consumers and health care providers.

The potential environmental harm associated with improper medication disposal into the public water supply is much less than the actual harm resulting from the abuse of prescription drugs among teens.

In the last few years, several teens in Pima County have died from abusing prescription drugs. 

The county now partners with local law enforcement agencies and civic groups to publicize the message of the Dispose-A-Med program – that abusing prescription medications can be deadly.

The countywide program includes more than 50 member agencies. There are monthly medication-collection events scheduled throughout greater Pima County. Each collection event is overseen by law enforcement officers, who are legally permitted to handle the disposing of controlled substances, such as narcotic painkillers, and representatives of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, who help teach the public about their medications and provide free blood pressure check-ups.

All collected medications are incinerated for free through an arrangement with the Southern Arizona District of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

During the last two years, the Dispose-A-Med program has collected more than three tons of pills. That’s an average of more than 250 pounds of medication collected each month –  approximately 250,000 pills.

The drugs collected in the last two years represent more than six million pills that otherwise might have been dumped into public sewers or perhaps taken by teens.

The county’s effort to provide public education on the dangers of not properly disposing of unused prescription drugs continues to grow.

Dispose-A-Med community members routinely meet with school children, health care workers and community groups to increase public awareness.

Target Corp. has agreed to support Dispose-A-Med efforts throughout Arizona and is co-hosting events in Oro Valley, Marana, Tucson and Casa Grande.

Target provides tables, chairs and refreshments at most of these events. Also, local Optimist chapters have been very supportive and local media also publicize the events.

For more information, visit www.disposeamed.pima.gov.

Get rid of expired, unused, unwanted and potentially dangerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs at Dispose-A-Med Day in conjunction with National Drug Take-Back Day

Saturday, April 30
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
at locations throughout Pima County (see table on opposite page)
For more information, visit

Legal drugs in your home can be deadly

By Liz Barta, The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center

One of the key concerns facing parents today is teen drug abuse – with legal prescription drugs. Many teenagers make the false assumption that all prescription drugs they see around the house are safe because they were prescribed by a physician. 

What they don’t know is that many of these drugs, when not taken as prescribed, are potentially addictive. In fact, they can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening side effects. A 2009 survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that prescription drug abuse among teens is on the rise. Approximately 20 percent of teens admitted using a prescription medication not prescribed to them in the past year.

Why? The most common reason teens gave was pressure by peers to try the drug.  Other teens said they thought the drug might improve their thinking ability, help them escape personal problems, get their parents’ attention or relieve boredom. Some said they were just curious. 

The most common drugs teens typically abuse are stimulants, such as methylphenidate or other amphetamine derivatives, opiates such as Oxycontin or Vicodin, and other central nervous system depressants, such as Valium, Xanax or trazodone.

The problem is that in addition to what teens are trying to get from taking these drugs, there are numerous side effects that can be potentially very harmful. A teen who takes his younger sibling’s Adderall  (a combination amphetamine) for its stimulant effects can end up with a rapid heart rate and severely increased blood pressure. With this type of misuse, the drug can cause heart rhythm problems, physical collapse and even death. A teen taking an opiate or narcotic for fun can end up with difficulty breathing, in a coma or dead.

A number of medications in the toxicology world are classified as “one pill can kill.”  These medications include common drugs used by adults to control high blood pressure or diabetes. Even one tablet of certain medications can cause severe physiological changes, such as low blood sugar or low blood pressure. These changes can be deadly if the teenager is not quickly treated in a hospital setting.

One of the more popular ways teens get access to these drugs is at a “pharm” party where they go pharming.” To get into a pharm party, each teen must contribute one or more prescription medications to a “collecting bowl.” The “party” starts as the teens swallow handfuls of these medications with no consideration of their negative effects on the body.  

How can you prevent teenagers from taking part in this potentially harmful activity? Here are three ways:

COMMUNICATION: Recent studies show teens whose parents have talked to them on a continuous basis about the dangers of drug use are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than teens whose parents do not.

SAFEGUARD: Keep prescription medications in a secure place to which only you have access. 

DISPOSAL: Take all unused or old medications for disposal to a local “Take Back” event.

Proper Medicine Disposal Step-by-Step

Here are the recommended ways to  – and how not to – dispose of medications, according to Dispose-A-Med, a program of Pima County:

Don’t flush medications down the toilet or down the drain. Sewage treatment plants cannot remove all the pharmaceutical contaminants that pollute streams and the aquifers from which drinking water is derived.

Don’t dump medications in the trash. Mixing unwanted medications with coffee grounds, kitty litter or similar undesirable substances prior to disposal in a trash receptacle, may prevent accidental ingestion by children or domestic pets. However, it does not protect wildlife that may come into contact with the trash once it is placed outside your home. The Sonoran Desert is home to numerous wildlife species, including coyotes, coatimundi and javalina, who routinely rummage through garbage cans looking for food scraps.  Medications dumped in the trash can kill these wildlife.

Bring your medications to a local Dispose-A-Med collection site. Keep the medication in the prescription bottle. Don’t dump the medications into a single bag or bottle. If you get pulled over by police en route to a collection site, you’ll have a hard time explaining the large bag of unmarked pills. Leave your medications in their original containers.  Dispose-A-Med event hosts will remove the labels for you to ensure your privacy and that your personal information is secure. The empty bottles are recycled or donated to Pima Animal Control Center’s spay and neuter program for use in dispensing antibiotics and pain medication for dogs and cats..

What happens to all those pills? After each Dispose-A- Med event, all medications are incinerated in coordination with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The incinerator effectively decomposes the pharmaceutical compounds and prevents pollution of the air, water and land.

My Perspective on Drug Abuse

By Ashley Franks

To give you my perspective on drug abuse is to give you my perspective on life. How I see it, how it has shaped me, and how it continues to shape me.

These are my shoes. 

I’m not asking you to walk in them, I’m not even asking you to try them on. I’m just asking you to look at them. You can think they are ugly, you can even think they are overpriced, or that you don’t really care for them. 

None of those things change where they have been.

This is where I have been.

You see, what they don’t tell you about addiction is – it affects more than you.

My brother Kyle’s choices affect me, and they will affect me for the rest of my life.

It’s one thing to tell the parents of a new boyfriend your brother died. It’s another to tell them he overdosed. It’s OK. You can admit it. When I said overdose you got a picture of a certain type of person in your mind, and probably not a pretty one.

It’s a shame because my brother wasn’t that person, but you’ll never know that.

That’s a choice Kyle made. No one tells you that when you smoke weed at a party. Or when some kid’s parents give you pills and tell you it’s all right as long as you give them your keys.

You see, what they don’t tell you about addiction is – it does not profile. It shows no favorites. It has no mercy.

My brother and I grew up in a loving home. We played sports, went to good schools, had loving friends and family. We had no traumatic experiences, no terrifying events or negative life changing moments. We were one of the only families I knew growing up whose parents were still together and who showed up for every game, every performance, and every parent teacher meeting. We weren’t allowed to use four letter words, or even watch “The Simpsons.” 

And yet, addiction found us.

I painfully watched my brother’s addiction grow. Soon enough, ‘just weed’ turned into pills, and when that got too expensive, pills turned into heroin. You want my perspective? Weed is a gateway drug. I’ve held it dead in my arms.

I remember talking to Kyle. I remember talking to his addiction. Learning to love and live with an addict was a ride of its own. Learning to lose one is a whole other ballgame.

You see, what they don’t tell you about drugs is  – it’s not so great when your 20-year-old sister is writing your obituary.

Right after Kyle died I had to grieve not only the loss of him, but also the hopes we had for him. I grieved I might never be called aunt, and he will never be called uncle. The night before Kyle died we had a conversation about what he might one day wear to my wedding. On that day, I’ll remember that conversation, and I’ll be wondering what tux he would’ve been wearing, what girl he would’ve had on his arm. Maybe his kids would’ve been my ring bearer or flower girl. I constantly find myself wanting to text him with, “Hey remember when….” When our parents die, I’ll bury them without Kyle at my side. I’ll do all those things because Kyle made a series of small choices, which escalated into something he could no longer control.

You see, what they don’t tell you about addiction is – eventually, it starts making choices for you.

I watched my parents walk a child through rehab. We hid money, we hid car keys, we took him places, dropped him off, picked him up, monitored phone use.

We were Team Kyle.

I watched him struggle. I watched them struggle.

Then, suddenly, one crisp December morning, I watched my parents bury a child.

I watch them bury him every time our family has a milestone. We bury him when we run into old faces, when our dog waits at the door because, to her, not everyone is home yet.  Every holiday, every birthday, every golf tournament, every speaking engagement, and every time we see or hear of a family experiencing the same heartbreak we did. We bury him every Sept. 24th , and every Dec 6th.

We were Team Kyle.  In so many ways, we still are.

You see, what they don’t tell you about addiction is – it’s forever.

Established in 2008, the Kyle Franks Foundation (KFF) aims to bring awareness to substance abuse in our community. Our goal is to provide youth the tools to make the right choices early on, and guide those who struggle back on track. 

Based in Northwest Tucson, the KFF will award its third college scholarship this May and supports Project Grad, R5 Presentations, the Oro Valley Police Department fifth-grade Drug Awareness Program and other community events.

The KFF is a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation. For more information, please visit www.KyleFranks.org.

 The University of
Arizona Police Dept.
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Arizona Police Dept.
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Operations Division Downtown
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 Arizona Department Of Public Safety  Arizona Dept. of
Public Safety
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 Tucson Police
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 Oro Valley
Police Dept.
 10555 N Oracle Road Tucson AZ, 85737
 Marana Police
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 Pima County
Sheriff’s Department
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(1) comment


Vicodin is a pain reliever that belongs to the group of narcotic pain relievers. This type of painkillers is mainly prescribed for treating chronic pains like postoperative pain, joint pain, arthritis pain and similar aches.

This medicine is a popular prescription pain reliever that provides a patient with short-term pain relief. Even though, it is a prescription drug, consuming Vicodin more than the prescribed amount may be dangerous for health. Vicodin may be a drug habit-forming. You should not therefore consumes this drug without any specific purpose.

Over consumption of Vicodin Findrxonline mentions that it may bring forth side effects of the medicine. Furthermore, purpose of Vicodin is for short-term pain relief. The medicine may become a source of addiction if taken for long. One should not ever increase or decrease the dose of Vicodin without consulting the doctor. Vicodin may have withdrawal syndromes. Therefore, do not quit this medicine all of to sudden.[wink]

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