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    29,000 pounds of opioids, prescription drugs taken off the street with Texas Counterdrug supporting DEA Take Back Day

    Texas Counterdrug Soldiers Support DEA Take Back Day

    Courtesy Photo | Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Members support the Drug Enforcement...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura 

    Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force

    AUSTIN, Texas--- Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force members supported 37 Drug Enforcement Administration “Take Back Day” stations where the community turned in more than 29,000 pounds of expired, old or unused prescription drugs April 27, 2019 throughout the state of Texas with more still processing.

    Soldiers and Airmen stood by their DEA, local law enforcement agencies and academic partners in unity to collect the prescription drugs and educate the public on the opioid crisis.

    “It is important because we are a part of the community and this is a big community function and affiliation with the DEA,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anita Blue, Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Team Leader. “With us being in partnership with them, we just want to do our part and come out and help with the National DEA Drug Take Back Day effort.”

    Sixty-two Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force members provided support in 37 locations across every major metropolitan in Texas. Many of them worked alongside the same law enforcement agents that they support in the fulltime capacity as members of the Counterdrug program.

    Blue, who supported the University of Houston DEA Take Back Day station on campus, worked alongside students, pharmacists, campus police and a DEA agent.

    “Having it at the university gives more visibility on the opioid problem,” said Blue. “We are putting out more information at this site to educate the students stopping by about the opioid crisis and informing them about the National Take Back Day and why we do it.”

    At the University of Houston location, pharmacy students and two pharmacists set up several presentations, educational devices and talked with students about the opioid crisis.

    Several students were a part of Operation Naxolene, a program that partners with the University of Texas to educate the community on how to reverse overdoses utilizing Naxolene, a medication often known by the brand name Narcan, via injection and nasal spray.

    When people approached the Take Back Day station to learn or to turn in prescriptions, students and the pharmacists educated them.

    “We are educating about Naxolene since there is an opioid overdose epidemic happening in America, specifically in Houston, it is even worse,” said Annette Augustine, a third year college student at the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy and a student leader for Operation Naxolene.

    “Our initiative right now is to educate people about the easy access to Naxolene now that it is a standing order,” said Augustine. “People can get it from pharmacies now and have it on hand to help a loved one or anyone in the public.”

    In addition to visiting local community and rehab centers in the Houston communities, Augustine said that her program plans to teach the University of Houston Police Department about Naxolene as well.

    University of Houston, Chief Pharmacist, and coordinator for the DEA Take Back Day on campus station, Veronica Simmons, R. Ph. Pharm D., highlighted the importance of the Guard and law enforcement presence on campus.

    “We want to empower people in our community, education is key and the partnership with the University of Houston Police, as well as the DEA, will speak to administration on campus that this is a need and it helps to show that partnership,” said Simmons. “We’ve heard of cases on campus, although far and few in between, but we want to have that conversation, prepare and empower the students as well.”

    Task force members assisted in collecting, boxing and weighing the prescription pills. After the event was over, Guardsmen assisted in loading the boxes and other administrative tasks.

    Texas Guardsmen participated in the 16th National Take Back Day Oct. 27, 2018, an effort that resulted in 914,236 pounds of prescription drugs collected nationwide.
    National DEA Take Back Day is one of many counterdrug efforts that the Texas National Guard Counterdrug program supports.

    The Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force leverages unique military capabilities to assist law enforcement agencies and community based organizations in the disruption of illicit drug financing, production, transportation, distribution and promotes drug-free living through community-based education and prevention.

    The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

    The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

    “It is important to get prescription drugs off of the streets in a clean way instead of doing it in a way where you are putting the water system or others in danger,” said Blue. “That is why they started the day-- to dispose of drugs in the proper manner instead of destroying them yourself. I am very excited that we had the opportunity to be a part of this.”

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    Date Taken: 04.27.2019
    Date Posted: 05.01.2019 15:02
    Story ID: 320314
    Location: AUSTIN, TX, US 
    Hometown: AUSTIN, TX, US
    Hometown: BROWNSVILLE, TX, US
    Hometown: DALLAS, TX, US
    Hometown: EL PASO, TX, US
    Hometown: FORT WORTH, TX, US
    Hometown: HOUSTON, TX, US
    Hometown: LAREDO, TX, US
    Hometown: MCALLEN, TX, US
    Hometown: SAN ANTONIO, TX, US

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