Community Partners provide drug deactivation system
Teton Valley Hospital and Teton Valley Community Recycling have teamed up with a host of community partners in an effort to provide an environmentally sound and safe drug deactivation system. Join us Saturday, May 20th at at the City of Driggs Arbor Day Celebration where we will roll out the Deterra Drug Deactivation System — free to the community.
The Deterra Drug Deactivation System will allow patients to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs at home saving them from throwing the drugs in the trash, flushing them into local water sources, and keeping them out the hands of people for whom they are not prescribed. This is an added amenity to the community service that is also provided by the Teton County Sheriff Office.
Keeping prescription drugs from individuals for whom the drugs are not intended will save not only lives, but medical expenses (unintended trips to the ER), and alleviate strain on emergency services. TVCR strongly supports this program based on our mission statement that promotes ethical and environmentally sound waste reduction practices. With this program, we are serving and protecting our neighbors and our natural resources.
The biodegradable bags contain carbon that deactivates the drug thus saving the chemical from leeching into groundwater once it is disposed of. The disposed of drug cannot be used once it’s mixed with the carbon in the Deterra bag, even if someone tries to ingest the water/carbon/drug mixture.
Local taxpayers assume the cost of any contamination to the landfill. While Teton County operates a Transfer Station that hauls our waste to the landfill in Jefferson County, we still remain on the hook when the ground water is compromised. Our local fees are, in part, determined by liability costs that are factored into what we pay. If we can lower our liability through programs like Deterra, we reduce our risk of contaminating ground water, and in the long run, save taxpayers from seeing increased fees according to Saul Valera, Teton County Solid Waste Manager.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, “Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. We now know that overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths.”
Unfortunately, Teton County, Idaho is not immune from this crisis. “There is a heron problem in Teton Valley,” Teton County Sheriff Communications Officer Mitch Golden told TVCR this year. “We’re trying to track it down and we know its being sold in Teton Valley. This problem is directly related to the over-prescription of opioids and other prescription narcotics.”
While the Teton County Sheriff Office has a confidential drug take-back system in place, Golden and other county professionals in the medical field, recognize that a drug deactivation system could stem the tide of people gaining access to prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them.
Tracking prescription drug abuse can be tricky in Teton Valley said both Golden and Ann Loyola, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Teton Valley Health Care. Medical professionals are bound by HIPPA laws that can prevent them from reporting drug overdoses to law enforcement and people who self-transport themselves to the ER avoid being logged in the 911 system for drug use and overdose.
TVCR is working with Teton Valley Community Health Care, the non profit Friends of the Teton River, Idaho National Lab in Idaho Falls, and the City of Driggs. Friends of the Teton River granted Teton Valley Health Care $1,000 toward this project. INL granted TVCR $1,000 toward this project. A special thank you to the City of Driggs for hosting the Arbor Day and Clean Up on Saturday, May 20th from 9am-noon at the Teton County Extension Office and 5th Street Skate Park.