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Police, federal agents raise awareness of opioids

Palm Springs RX for Success KDFX 10PM

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The rain didn't stop Palm Springs resident Michael Dest and his grandson, Oliver, from getting out to Palm Springs Stadium to learn about law enforcement, and the dangers of certain drugs. 

"We're just at the beginning and we're already impressed," Dest said. "I think it's good at an early stage, an early age, [to learn] the old common, 'Say no to drugs." 

They and others took part in the first 'RX for Success - A Drug Free Life.'

An event held Saturday by Palm Springs Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aimed at teaching people about the opioid crisis. 

"People, unfortunately, have become addicted to what is generally a very good medicine to handle pain related to surgery or chronic illness," DEA agent Frank Pepper said. 

"We're seeing a significant issue of opioids, especially on the east coast, and some other parts of the country," Lt. Melissa Desmarais with Palm Springs Police said. "Although it is here as well, we're hoping to really promote a lot of awareness."

Many also got an up-close look at careers in law enforcement, public safety and the military. 

These included firefighting, paramedics, police and even the Department of Homeland Security. 

According to Daniel Dobas with the Palm Springs Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, in 2016, there were 63,600 drug overdoses in the U.S.

More than 42,000 were related to opioids.

"That's 66 percent," Dobas said. "We wanted to get to the youth and present them positive alternatives. It's kind of like an unofficial job fair. A career fair also. Not advertised as such. But there's positive careers here."

Ones that Dest and Oliver hope to learn more about while saying no to drugs. 

Dobas said the DEA hosts a drug take back event twice a year, where residents can properly dispose of drugs to law enforcement. 

The next take back is set for Saturday, April 28. 

Dobas said stations for that event will be set up at Palm Springs Police Department, as well as the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Palm Desert and Thermal stations.

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