Drug Take-Back: Progress & Prevention


Photo Courtesy of St. Louis University

On Saturday, Oct. 28 and Monday, Oct. 30, Saint Louis University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) partnered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to host a drug take-back drive. This drive was part of the larger National Prescription Drug Take Back Day that occurred on Oct. 26 of this year, although drives like this run consistently throughout the year.

Shelia Hatcher has been a DPS officer at Saint Louis University for the past five years and has been running the Drug Take-Back Drive on SLU’s campus for the past three years. Coming to SLU’s Department of Public Safety after working on the St. Louis police force in narcotics, Hatcher is especially experienced in initiatives like this. Hatcher pointed out that she has seen firsthand where these drugs can go and keeping them out of the wrong hands is an important mission to her. 

 The DEA describes the drive as a way to “provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.” Hatcher was especially excited to see the number of students that showed up to the drive, saying “That made me feel good.”

                  The goal of these drives is to ensure that these medications stay out of the wrong hands. According to the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, the drug overdose death rate has had a 61% increase from 2010 to 2016 and the trend is continuing. St. Louis, specifically, has seen a 79% rise from 2010 to 2016. These drug take-back drives fight these statistics by providing a place where a person who is struggling with drug addiction or who knows a friend or family member with addiction can properly dispose of prescriptions and medications. 

While the event was on SLU property, this event was hosted by the DEA, which brought people from the surrounding communities outside of SLU. Hatcher was enthusiastic about the turnout, saying that 20+ people brought in multiple medications they no longer use and were grateful that the drive was occurring. Hatcher proudly stated that she absolutely felt that the goal of this drive was accomplished. 

                  Hatcher ended by mentioning that there are multiple resources for students who are struggling or who know someone who is struggling with addiction. Some resources are the SLU Counseling Center (314-977-8255), the DPS Hotline (314-977-3000) and the Suicide Hotline (800-273-8255).

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