TEMPE, AZ — The Tempe Union High School District is helping families dispose of leftover prescription drugs.
The district will soon be the first in Arizona offering parents a powder called Dispose RX. When it is mixed with water it turns dangerous drugs, like opioids, into a biodegradable gel.
The outreach is an extension of a health and wellness program offered to students at Tempe Union's seven high schools.
"It cleans medicines out of the your home and it also spurs conversation with your children about how important it is to not take prescription medicines that are not prescribed for you by a doctor," district spokesperson Jennifer Liewer said.
On Tuesday, 9th graders from Corona Del Sol High School attended a life skills class. Students learn about the hard choices they will have to make and peer pressure.
Some of the focus Tuesday was on drug and alcohol use. "Tempe Union High School District has made it a priority to help students understand the effects of drug and alcohol abuse," Liewer said. "What we want to do at the high school level is prevent things from happening when they get older."
The classroom instruction augmented by visits from the Tempe Fire Department. "There is really no sugar coating anything. We want them to know the risks that are out there," says registered nurse Dana Cardenas, the Emergency Medical Services Coordinator for the Tempe Fire Department.
At any given time Tempe residents can track the opioid abuse problem its city faces on the fire department's web site.
Since the first of the year, EMS has dispensed 190 doses of Narcan, an antidote to an opioid overdose. Cardenas is in charge of the outreach program at Tempe Fire Department, speaking of the students she says, "we want them to understand that it's not just a party thing. It's an end of life thing if they are not careful."
Tempe Union is hoping the prescription drug disposal program provides a teachable moment for parents and their children about prescription drugs. High Schools will start handing out Dispose RX to parents at school events beginning next week.