Washougal students organize drug take-back

Local event one of several set for April 28 in Clark County

A group of about 10 Washougal High School students is helping to organize a drug take-back event in Washougal from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 28, at Silver Star Search and Rescue, 1220 “A” St., Washougal.

The students, who are also members of the Unite! Washougal Community Coalition, are teaming up with the Washougal Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration to host the second Drug Take-Back in Washougal. The first was in October of 2017.

Community members are encouraged to drop off any unused medication to the take-back station.

The only items not being accepted are sharps and needles, Bridgette McCarthy, Washougal High senior and Unite! volunteer, said. Sharps and needles will be accepted at Kaiser Permanente Cascade Park in Vancouver, at 12607 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.

McCarthy said the drug take-back events are important, especially for youth, because it will reduce the likelihood that a young person will have access to addictive drugs and opioids. Opioids are defined as a specific class of prescription drugs commonly-used for pain management, such as Oxycontin, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

Seventy-one percent of all drug poisoning deaths in Clark County are opioid-related and 75 percent of all opioid poisoning deaths are from prescription opioids — a number that has increased by 16 percent since 2013, according to Clark County Public Health.

At the drug take-back event, volunteers from Unite! have the opportunity to increase public awareness of the issues surrounding opioids, which are now one of the leading causes of injury related deaths in Washington State, according to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Katie Boon, a Washougal High student, said she believes events such as the take-back are important because they help eliminate the risk factors associated with teens taking medication that wasn’t prescribed for them.

State health figures show that 75 percent of opioid abuse starts with someone using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them — usually taken from a friend or family member.

“I think (the take-back) also involves the whole community and makes them aware of the problem,” Boon said. “I think sometimes the community doesn’t really know about it.”

McCarthy added that another important component of the take-back event is keeping unused medications out of the waterways.

“Just having those things in our waterways, in our streams … it adds to the pollution in the water,” McCarthy said.

The Washougal Drug Take-Back is sponsored by Unite! Washougal Community Coalition, Prevent, Vancouver Clinic, Downtown Washougal Association and the city of Washougal.

Other partners include: D Studio 21, Orchard Hills Dental, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and Bethel Community Church.