Former Rep. Mary Bono joining campaign that’s providing free drug deactivation pouches
Former congresswoman Mary Bono spoke with KVCR's Jonathan Linden about her partnership with the nonprofit SAFE Project, whose national campaign aims to prevent drug misuse before it starts.
Jonathan Linden: Former congresswomen Mary Bono is the CEO of Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) and the chairperson of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). This month she has partnered with the SAFE Project’s national campaign to combat the opioid epidemic and preventing drug misuse. To start off Mary, can you tell me more about SAFE Project’s campaign?
Mary Bono: So, I’ve been involved in this opioid use disorder prevention space since about 2007, and clearly, the disease and the problem has gotten so much worse since then. For me, it’s a labor of love and also angst and frustration. A lot of these overdose deaths are preventable, and so that for some reason, it’s just what I spend a lot of my time on. SAFE Project, though, right now, in the month of April, has a fantastic program, it’s called Gone for Good. And what they’re trying to do is get rid of and deactivate and destroy as many unused and unwanted leftover pills that might be sitting around somebody’s house, in their medicine chest, or wherever. And this would be packets that they’re handing out, or if you sign up to receive one… they not only deactivate prescription medicines, they also deactivate illicit drugs. And as you know, there’s a huge problem right now with illicit pills that are laced with fentanyl, and we have an entirely new overdose epidemic because of these fentanyl-laced pills. So, these pouches, they’re the Deterra pouch that are being distributed by SAFE Project… are really remarkable in that they can truly, at the end of the day, save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of these pills, whether they’re legal prescription pills or illicit pills, but prevent those pills from falling in the wrong hands.
Jonathan Linden: And can you tell me a little bit more about how these pouches work and how they deactivate the drugs?
Mary Bono: So, it’s a pretty simple product, but it’s a great product; it’s completely green, the exterior of the pouch is made out of a sugarcane product. And then inside is some carbon, and you simply throw your pills into this pouch, add a little warm water, shake it up, let the air come out, leave the pouch open for a little while so some of the air can escape, and then seal it up and throw it out with the household trash. And the product, the pills, the patches, whatever you might be throwing into there are completely rendered irretrievable and ready for safe disposal.
Jonathan Linden: And if someone were to want to get one of these Gone for Good pouches, I know you all are giving out 30,000 for in the Month of April; how would they be able to get a hold of one of those?
Mary Bono: Simply go to the website, www.safeproject.us, and request one, and it’s featured prominently on the page right now. But that’s the place that I would start, www.safeproject.us, and request your Deterra pouch.
Jonathan Linden: And is there anything else you would like to share about these other organizations that you’re working with right now?
Mary Bono: One thing that is terrific about these organizations is there’s a spirit of cooperation. We all try to work together to increase each other’s effectiveness and bolster the mission that each of us have, and at the end of the day, they’re all about saving lives. CADCA, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, is a large nonprofit with coalitions around the country, somewhere over 3000, (it’s) primary focus is prevention. SAFE Project is pretty brilliant in that it was founded by a retired four-star Navy admiral who was the former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So, he really has been able to put together some terrific pillar programs and organize them in a way that each address a specific part of the problem. And then MAPDA is really a small grassroots organization that was born out of Cathedral City, California. It was created by two moms who each lost their son; this was back in 2010, it was formed in 2011. But it’s a grassroots (organization)… but we pack a big punch; we fight above our weight. But all three of them work together very well, I consider us all sister organizations trying to address the same problem.
Jonathan Linden: And what are some other projects that you have going on with these organizations in the future?
Mary Bono: Well, it’s funny that I’ve got all of these three different focuses, MAPDA, the organization that was born out of Cathedral City... what we’ve been hoping to do is to award scholarships to students who are in recovery. It’s been a little bit difficult; we’ve worked with both College of the Desert and then NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College.) I’m trying to award scholarships to kids who are in recovery. But that’s one of our big passion items; we’re going to still keep working on it, trying to identify kids who are in recovery. Look, we strongly believe that if anybody’s in recovery, they need to be celebrated and helped along the way. We’re doing our best to remove the stigma that surrounds any addiction, and all three nonprofits focus a lot on addressing the stigma and trying to remove it. We firmly believe that addiction, or now called substance use disorders, are not a moral failing; we believe they are a disease. And that’s how we address it, and we try to educate the public to treat these like a disease and recognize (that) calling them a moral failing and stigmatizing it doesn’t make anything better.
Jonathan Linden: Well, former representative Mary Bono, thank you so much for taking some time to speak with me today.
Mary Bono: Yeah, thank you very much for having me.