National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Sept. 26

With prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse remaining one of the fastest growing problems among teens and young adults, it’s important to ensure unwanted, unused and expired medications are removed from homes.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 26, Orange County residents can safely, easily and anonymously empty their medicine cabinets at locations throughout the region participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, held in conjunction with local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency. See below for a list of drop-off sites in Orange County.

Drug safety is important to practice year-round. Here are some tips to help your family take charge of medications in your home:

  • If you have to do something else while taking medicine, such as answer the phone, take any young
    children with you.
  • Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them. Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.
  • Do not call medicine “candy.”
  • Talk to your teen about prescription and OTC drug abuse. Ensure your teen understands that buying
    or using prescription medication without a doctor’s order is dangerous and illegal.
  • Keep your family’s medications in a secure location and secure the cap completely after each use.
    Set clear rules about taking the correct dosage at the right time. Ask friends and family to keep
    their prescription and OTC medications in a safe place, too.
  • Explain the purpose of each prescribed or OTC medication, including possible side effects. Although
    you may not have prescription medications in your home, your child’s friend or family might. Stress
    that it is both illegal and extremely dangerous to share any kind of medications.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Ensure you are all on the same page when it
    comes to drugs, alcohol and medications.
  • Check with your child’s school. When teaching about substance abuse, does it include prescription
    and OTC medications?
  • Discard all old and unneeded medications properly. Mix medications with used coffee grounds, dirt
    or kitty litter; add hot water; and place in the garbage. Never flush them down a toilet.

To participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, here’s a list of drop-off sites in Orange County:

San Juan Capistrano City Hall
32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Placentia Police Department
401 E. Chapman Ave., Placentia, CA 92870

Villa Park City Hall parking lot
17855 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, CA 92861

University Hills Community Center
1083 California Ave., Irvine, CA 92617

Costa Mesa Police Department front lobby
99 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Buena Park Police Department front lobby
6640 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90622

Brea Police Department front lobby
1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, CA 92821

Huntington Beach Police Department front desk
2000 Main St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Mission Viejo City Hall
200 Civic Center, Mission Viejo, CA 92692

Lake Forest City Hall
25550 Commerce Centre Drive, Lake Forest, CA 92630

Seal Beach Police Department
911 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, CA 90740

Kaiser Permanente Anaheim Medical Center, office building 1
3460 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806

Tustin Police Department, front parking lot
300 Centennial Way, Tustin, CA 92780

Buena Park Police Department, Ehlers Event Center
8150 Knott Ave., Buena Park, CA 90620

Santa Ana Police Department, west-end office
3750 W. McFadden Ave., Suite 1, Santa Ana, CA 92704

Orange City Hall parking lot
360 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866

Kaiser Permanente Hospital parking lot
6670 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92618

Oasis Senior Center, overflow parking lot
801 Narcissus Ave., Corona del Mar, CA 92625

La Habra Police Department front lobby
150 N. Euclid St., La Habra, CA 90631

Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Yorba Linda service station
20994 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92887

Fountain Valley Police Department parking lot
10200 Slater Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Fullerton Police Department drive-through on Highland Avenue
237 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832

Laguna Hills City Hall
24035 El Toro Road, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Westminster Police Department parking lot
8200 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CA 92683

Cypress Police Department front parking lot
5275 Orange Ave., Cypress, CA 90630

Garden Grove Police Department
11301 Acacia Parkway, Garden Grove, CA 92842

Teens and Drugs

Pills_in_handPAINFUL TRUTH

Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S. “In South Orange County, the three most common drugs teens are experimenting with for recreational purposes are oxycodone and hydrocodone (narcotic pain killers) and methadone, a drug used to help heroin addicts kick their addiction,” says Dr. Winkelmann. “A percentage of kids are being prescribed narcotics for their own injuries, but many find them in the medicine cabinets of friends, family members and even in their own homes,” she says. “They have “pharming” parties, where everyone brings their pills, put them in a bucket and take handfuls. It’s pretty scary how creative these kids are.”


Talking to your child early about this dangerous and potentially deadly problem is critical, says Dr. Winklemann. “I think middle school is certainly the time to have the talk,” she says. If you need help, there are resources available. “The documentaries, ‘Overtaken’ and ‘Behind the Orange Curtain’ are very good. Both address this issue specifically for our area.

Parents should take precautions when it comes to having prescription drugs in the home, says Dr. Winkelmann. Some tips:

    • Make sure parents are in charge of dispensing medication
    • Set clear rules about teens taking the right amount at the right time
    • Take care to understand the purposes and side effects, using the medications as a last resort, especially for pain control
    • Keep medications in a secure location

It’s important to dispose of prescription drugs properly and that means NOT flushing them down the toilet, says Dr. Winkelmann. “Crush them, mix with coffee grounds or cat litter, put them in an empty can or bag and throw them in the trash,” she says.

Created by CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital nurses, Karen Caiozzo, Dottie Tagan and Chris Venable and championed by Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann, the physician-to-physician prescription drug education program informs the staff, suggests doctors consider decreasing pill  counts to only what’s absolutely necessary and ensures that parents and teens know about the hazards of having prescription drugs in the home.


      • The peak age for prescription drug experimentation: 12 to 13 Years Old
      • The number of pediatric patients admitted to CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital for overdoses (5/2009-5/2010): 61
      • Percentage of teens who have said they have taken drugs without a prescription: 20 %

View the full feature on Teens and Drugs

Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann
Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann
CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. Jacqueline Winkelmann

Dr. Winkelmann is currently Chief of Staff Elect at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital. She attended the University
of Illinois College of Medicine and completed her residency training at Hope Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where she held the position of Pediatric Chief Resident.

Dr. Winkelmann’s philosophy of care: “I really truly believe that taking care of children is a partnership between parents, nurses, doctors and the patients themselves.”

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine

General Pediatrics

More about Dr. Winkelmann

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on December 17, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

Use of Cigarette-Like Devices Growing Among Teens

Cigarette-like devices that could pass for a pen or marker are becoming more and more popular with teens. These devices are sold in tempting flavors such as apple, bubble gum or chocolate, and sometimes claim to be nicotine-free, which can make them attractive to kids. The risks involved, however, are far less appealing and something every parent and teen should become educated on. We spoke to Deputy Matson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Community Programs Division/Drug Use is Life Abuse, who shared his expertise on this growing new trend.

Q: What are E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens? 
A: The term electronic cigarette, or “E-Cig,” typically refers to the cigarette-like devices that contain varying amounts of nicotine suspended in a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin solution. They come in a variety of flavors, ranging anywhere from tobacco to margarita. They can also sometimes be used to smoke liquid THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

“Vape Pen” usually refers to devices that are used to vaporize and inhale marijuana.  Both are battery-powered, electronic devices that are usually recharged using a USB port for a computer or wall adapter. Their appearance can be similar to that of an actual cigarette, to something that looks more like a pen, or even a portable media player. On some of these devices, the dead giveaway is the flat mouthpiece.

Q: What are the health risks involved?
A: When it comes to E-Cigs, the health risks at this time remain somewhat unknown. This is mainly due to the fact that they have only recently become so popular, and no long-term studies have been completed. What we do know is that the Food and Drug Administration conducted a study that found many cartridges used in E-Cigs contained trace levels of carcinogens, while some others that claimed to be nicotine-free actually contained nicotine. We also know that nicotine is highly addictive, making it possible for those using E-Cigs to become addicted. Vape Pens share many of the risks associated with marijuana use, which includes the possibility of addiction.

Q: Why are these so popular with teens? 
A: E-Cigs have become popular with teens for many reasons. First, they don’t carry the negative stigma that regular cigarettes do. To put it simply, teens see these as a healthier alternative. E-Cigs also come in many appealing flavors such as apple, gingerbread, banana split, waffle and chocolate, just to name a few. They are stealthy and convenient as well, due to the fact that they are so small and emit no scent. This is what allows many teens to use these devices in their rooms at home, or even during classes at school with little fear of being caught; not to mention that many look benign to the untrained eye.

Q: How is the Orange County Sheriff’s Department working with the schools to help with this problem?
A: The Sheriff’s Department has deputies assigned to campuses across the county. They are called School Resource Officers (SROs), and it is their job to ensure the safety of the students at the campuses to which they are assigned. One powerful tool that they have is the “text-a-tip” program, in which students can send anonymous texts that go straight to the school principal and assigned SRO. This is a great tool when it comes to combating alcohol, tobacco or drug use on campus, as well as other dangerous behavior. The information that leads to the confiscation of many of the E-Cigs and Vape Pens on campuses is obtained from the “text-a-tip” program.

Q: Are there any laws against the use of these devices by minors? What are the general consequences if kids are caught with these cigarettes?
A: Currently, there are laws in place that prohibit the furnishing of E-Cigs to minors. It is also possible that minors found to be in possession of these devices can be cited under a penal code that deals with minors possessing tobacco paraphernalia. On top of that, some school districts already have policies in place banning the use of these devices on campuses, while other districts are in the process of working with the Orange County Department of Education to create new policies on their use. When students are found using these products with marijuana, they can be charged with drug possession.

Q: What tips can you offer parents to educate their kids about the harms of these devices?
A: Get educated. One of the best ways to stay on top of these trends is to do the research yourself. I frequently visit websites that sell these items to make sure I stay informed of all of the new trends and products.

For those interested in learning more, the Sheriff’s Department is offering a presentation about emerging drug trends Aug. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The presentations will be held at several locations throughout Orange County: Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, North Tustin, San Juan Capistrano and Yorba Linda. Among the topics discussed will be E-Cigs and Vape Pens. The presentation is free and everyone is welcome. Please click here for locations and more information on the event:

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    Synthetic Drug Popular Among Teens – What Parents Should Know

    A relatively new street drug known as Spice (also called Potpourri and other names), remains popular among teens, warn law enforcement and health officials. The effects of this harmful substance, sold in appealing silvery or bright packaging, are very serious and can even lead to death in some cases. We spoke to Deputy Matson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Community Programs Division/Drug Use is Life Abuse, who shared his expertise on what parents can do if they suspect their child is using this or any other drugs.

    Q: What is “Spice” or “Potpourri?”
    A: This is a relatively new synthetic drug that gained major popularity in 2009 and 2010 before it was temporarily banned by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the following year. It has many names that include: Spice, K-2, Fake Weed, Black Mamba, Potpourri, and more. It is made up of dried plant material which is then sprayed with a synthetic chemical compound that produces effects similar to THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets users “high.” Spice is typically smoked, although it can also be made into a tea.

    Q: What are the risks involved?
    A: This drug is largely produced by unregulated businesses or individuals located outside the U.S., or sometimes in private residences within our borders. The long term effects of Spice on the human body are largely unknown at this time. However, the short term effects of Spice include:

    • Altered perceptions
    • Harsh cough after smoking
    • Hazy feeling afterward (hung over)
    • Vomiting
    • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
    • Reduced blood supply to the heart
    • Heart attacks
    There are new cases coming to light that link the use of this drug to kidney failure.

    Q: How are these cigarettes/drugs being marketed to kids?
    A: Spice is easily accessible, and most often found, through the internet or in head shops – retail outlets specializing in drug paraphernalia. The sites that sell Spice often market it as a “safe, natural, and legal” high. The first two claims are easily refuted while the third remains a bit of a gray area. To teens looking for a new drug to experiment with, this can be a very appealing alternative to marijuana.

    Q: What steps can parents take if they suspect or find that their child (or his friends) are using Spice?
    A: There are several things to look for if you think your child may be abusing Spice. If they have bloodshot eyes with dilated pupils and strange, altered moods this could be a sign of Spice or other drugs. One dead giveaway is the silvery, plastic packaging that the drug is typically sold in. Because Spice is many times obtained online, another thing you can do is check your child’s internet browser history. There are also laboratory tests available to detect Spice. These can range from fifty to eighty dollars.

    If you think your child is abusing Spice, or any other drug, don’t ignore it and pretend that it will go away on its own. You know your child best, and the best way to confront them about their drug use. There is a great intervention help page available through the DEA. Please visit:

    Q: Where can parents go for more information?  
    A: There are many online sources available to parents. Below are just a few:
    Parents are encouraged to call Drug Use Is Life Abuse with any further questions 714-647-4593.

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      What Parents Must Know About Prescription, OTC Drug Abuse

      The source of our country’s fastest-growing drug problem may be as close as the home medicine cabinet. More people now die from prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse than from cocaine, heroin and ecstasy combined.

      And that includes teens and young adults who would never dream of using illegal drugs. One reason is the easy availability of these medications. In fact most of them are free and accessible from the medicine cabinets of friends, relatives – or even in their own home.

      Teens and young adults often raid their parents’ medicine cabinets before going to “pharm parties,” where a pocketful of pills is the price of admission. The pills that go into a bowl for sharing can be a mixture of anything, including medications for pain, high blood pressure or depression.

      During 2009 and 2010, 61 local teens were admitted into the CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit as a result of overdose on prescription and over-the-counter medications, illegal substances and alcohol, as well as combination mixes of these substances. CHOC nurses noticed and decided to find out why. As part of their investigation, they reviewed the pain medication prescriptions that hospital physicians were writing for patients undergoing minor procedures. They discovered that these prescriptions were often written for larger amounts than actually needed.

      Our nurses started a community health campaign that reached out to physicians and nurses in addition to local parents and teens. Part of their goal was to reduce the availability of excess pain medication sitting in home medicine cabinets within the local community.

      “When we showed our physicians how many kids were being admitted and what they were taking, they were very surprised,” said Karen Caiozzo, R.N. “More than 90 percent said they would change how they write prescriptions as a result.”

      CHOC nurses also developed a hospital form tracking how many pain pills are actually taken during the 24 hours prior to discharge. This tool helps physicians better estimate the amount of pain medication actually needed later at home.

      Now our nurses are sharing their results with the rest of the country. This past spring, they were invited to give poster presentations to both the Society of Pediatric Nursing, in Houston, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), in San Antonio. Additionally, this presentation has become an online continuing education course on the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, a website for certified nurses and nurse practitioners across the country.

      What You Can Do Now

      • Talk to your teen about prescription and OTC drug abuse. Be sure your teen understands that buying or using prescription medication without a doctor’s order is dangerous — and illegal.
      • Take charge of all medications. Keep your family’s medications in a secure location. Set clear rules about taking the correct dosage at the right time. Ask friends and family to keep their prescription and OTC medications in a safe place, too.
      • Explain the purpose of each prescribed or OTC medication, including possible side effects. Stress that it is both illegal and dangerous to share these medications with friends.
      • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to drugs, alcohol and medications.
      • Check with your teen’s school. Are they including prescription and OTC medications when teaching about substance abuse?
      • Discard all old and unneeded medications. Mix discarded medications with either used coffee grounds or kitty litter, add hot water, then place in the garbage. Never flush them.

      “You’ll be amazed when you look through your own medicine cabinet,” Karen Caiozzo, R.N., said. “People tend to save drugs thinking they might need them later and forget about them, but that’s where 70 percent of these abused medications are coming from. It’s a scary statistic.”

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