Drug-Free Fayette offers drug deactivation pouches

How drug deactivation pouches, supplied by Drug-Free Fayette, help the community fight drug abuse


Junior Olivia Shim, a member of the Drug Free Fayette Youth Action Team, pictured with a display of the deactivation pouches. Photo courtesy of Wendy Mabon

Lulu Vitulo, Managing Editor

Every day, hundreds of people pass through the McIntosh front desk; parents, staff members, and students sweeping in and out. Another daily occurrence: deaths from overdosing on prescription drugs. In the far corner of the front desk, a modest display sits quietly, offering a simple and preventative solution to keep unused medication from ending up in the wrong hands: Drug Deactivation pouches. These pouches have been distributed by the Drug-Free Fayette Youth Action Team at McIntosh, led by World History teacher Wendy Mabon.

The Drug-Free Fayette Youth Action Team is a subset of the non-profit organization called Drug-Free Fayette, which also pertains to the Fayette Prevention Coalition. “…the whole goal is to promote healthy living and a drug-free lifestyle for everybody in Fayette County,” Mabon said.

McIntosh is not the only school with a Youth Action Team.

“At some point..they decided to do Youth Action teams at the high schools, and so [we] have a youth action team that’s supposed to create initiatives and campaigns to help encourage drug-free, healthy lifestyles here, in this age group. I would say that is what our task is, and we answer to Drug-Free Fayette and they help sponsor us and all of that,” Mabon said.

…the whole goal is to promote healthy living and a drug-free lifestyle for everybody in Fayette County,

— Wendy Mabon

While Drug-Free Fayette directs the Youth Action Team’s activities, the McIntosh Youth Action team does its part in taking responsibility at the local level. 

“[Drug-Free Fayette/Fayette Coalition] bought all the packets…and then tasked the youth action teams with getting them distributed in the county. And so we came up with the idea of the displays and then talking to local businesses in places where people might be…the mindset of ‘hey,…do I have unused medications at home, prescription [or] over the counter, [do I have] a safe way to dispose of them?’” Mabon said.

The need for a safe, reliable way to dispose of medication has come from a rising current problem in the U.S and abroad. 

“…one of the big issues in the United States and really around the world right now is the opioid crisis, where people abuse prescription pain meds and stuff. And so one of the ways people who are addicted to opioids get the drugs is in the trash, they go through people’s trash and get unused oxycodone and stuff like that,” Mabon said.

The impact of this growing substance use and addiction in the U.S in our own community is what brought senior Olivia Shim to join the Youth Action Team. “I find that there’s a lot of teen substance abuse in our area and I felt it was very important to address that and bring awareness around it,” Shim said.

While flushing or washing medication down the sink gets it out of the wrong hands, it does pose another problem for the environment, as those medications will end up in local water systems. The Drug Deactivation pouches solve this too.

“It’s also bad for the environment to just flush meds down the toilet, and so this is a safe way to deactivate the pills or liquids, and then safely dispose of them so they don’t end up in the environment and don’t wind up in the wrong hands,” Mabon said. 

These pouches are not only available at McIntosh, but several other locations around Peachtree City. Displays can be found at PT Solutions, Fuller Life Chiropractic, Betterway Bargains, Fitness 54, Clothes Less Traveled and Pro Health Solutions. They are available for anyone, and hopefully will be used by everyone to keep the community safe.

“We’d love to get more displays and different local businesses…and so we’re trying to keep awareness and I think a lot of people don’t know that this system exists, that there is such a thing as a safe deactivation pouch…It’s really, at this point because they’re free, cost-effective for the community and just a good way to get awareness about the proper ways to dispose of medications…Hopefully we’ll continue picking up steam and getting more packets out there,” Mabon said.