You’re checking out some cupboards and decide to tackle the bathroom medicine cabinet. It’s a chore but it needs to be done.

As you pull the prescription bottles out, you notice some of the expiration dates. July 2007? What’s this?

Here’s what it is — a potential tragedy.

It’s not easy to track the number of Americans who overdose on prescription meds, but last year more than 70,000 overdose deaths were reported nationwide. A lot of those were opioid related, but many were simply people taking the wrong medications.

It can be tempting for a child, because despite safety caps on most prescription meds, kids can still perceive the pills as candy. You don’t want to go there.

So, a big bouquet of roses for the local office of the California Highway Patrol, which has teamed with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as hosts for today’s National Take Back Day, during which anyone can safely dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs.

The action takes place between 10 a.m-2 p.m. at the Santa Maria DMV, 523 S. McClelland St. The event is free and anonymous. No questions will be asked.

It’s the 18th Take Back event in the past decade, and could help prevent pill abuse, theft and overdoses.

Just let the pros take care of safe disposal.


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Speaking of professionals, roses and props to folks at Foodbank of Santa Barbara County for another very successful Empty Bowls fund-raising event earlier this week.

The turnout on Wednesday was close to 1,000 diner/donors, who spooned out about $55,000, which is a new record for the Santa Maria version of Empty Bowls. The ceramic bowls were donated to the Foodbank by local artists and Allan Hancock College students. The few bowls left unfilled after the event will be saved for future Empty Bowl events. Think of it as repurposing with a purpose.

Santa Barbara County has a surprisingly large number of people who need help putting a meal on the table, and a high percentage of those requiring such assistance from the Foodbank reside in our North County communities. Just under half of those availing themselves of the Foodbank’s services live in Santa Maria, and a total of 74 percent are in North County communities — which makes Empty Bowls such an important fund-raiser for this area.

OK, so Wednesday was a tad warm. Hot soup still soothes the soul.


Roses also to the folks organizing community forums in Santa Maria and Lompoc, which encourage residents to speak out about real and perceived problems, and tell policy makers about what could be done to make their lives better. It’s all part of Santa Barbara County’s Community Action Plan.

This is the second leg of a multi-phase program. Phase 1 meetings let residents vent. Now, Phase 2 will be the building-and-implementation-strategy part. The idea is get input on specific steps to be taken, and for city officials and residents to work together to fill in any blank spaces.

The Santa Maria forum is Monday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in Shephard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library, 421 S. McClelland St. The Lompoc forum is from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday in the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center, 1120 W. Ocean Ave.

The forums are free, but those interested are asked to register in advance at either city. This is a great opportunity to make your voice heard.

These community forums allow everyone interested to be involved in the big decisions affecting our future.

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