UT Wellness Network hosts first drug take back event

Nicole Stuessy

Pizza, drinks and t-shirts were available on Wednesday on the lawn by Littlefield Fountain for a small price — old prescription drugs.

This was all for the first UT Prescription Drug Take Back Day, hosted by the UT Wellness Network.

“What we really wanted to do was expand our prevention approaches,” said Lucas Hill, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy. “It’s about finals time and we understand students are under a lot of pressure which may lead people to be more likely to use drugs, and we wanted to give people an opportunity to dispose of those drugs if they wanted.”

Matthew Olson, a coordinator for Alcohol and other Drugs Counseling Program at the Counseling and Mental Health Center, said even if students don’t have bad intentions, they may not be aware of how dangerous certain drugs can be when combined with alcohol.

“With finals being a time of increased stress and increased demand on people in terms of their time and energy, that it would only be natural for people to try and experiment with drugs,” Olson said. “But again, they can have really harmful side effects that they are not aware of, and so that’s why we’re here to promote this event.”

Pharmacy sophomore Mandy Renfro said events like this promote proper disposal and prevent drugs from harming the environment.

“Being a pharmacy student, we learned about where most people dispose of their medications is either flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash,” Renfro said. “Either way, there will be traces of those medications in our water, and it’s basically polluting the environment and polluting the water that we drink.”

UT Wellness Network has also worked on projects, including Operation Naloxone, to prevent opioid overdoses on campus.

“We have been meeting monthly for a couple of years now,” Hill said. “One of our first projects was stocking Naloxone in the residence halls, training RA’s to respond to opioid overdoses and getting the UTPD ready to respond those overdoses.”

While they are hoping to have one of these events each semester, students can also drop off drugs at the Forty Acres Pharmacy in a secure box, Hill said.

“I think that being the first year, participation has been pretty good, not as great as we might hope in the future, but this is a good beginning place,” Hill said.