Valerie Mariano

Drug Takeback Program Helps Communities

MARCH 2018

What are the dangers of keeping old prescription and over-the-counter medications at home? And, what do you do with those bottles of pills and old cough syrup? Those are the questions that Valerie Mariano, branch chief of Community and Crime Prevention, State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, answers during community outreach meetings and drug take-back events. Mariano is a 30-year veteran public employee working for the state, and in that time, she’s dedicated her career to educating the public on important topics ranging from crime prevention and safety with McGruff the Crime Dog program to substance abuse prevention and anti-bullying initiatives.

To Mariano, public service is more than a job. “I find my career rewarding because I feel like I’m making a difference,” says Mariano. “Prevention is everyone’s responsibility. From teachers to law enforcement to unions and family members — we can all do our part to ensure that there are protective factors in place. In that way we all can help to raise responsible young people as our future leaders.”

So just what should be done with old medications? Several times each year the state Department of the Attorney General partners with the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Narcotics Enforcement Division, and county law enforcement to provide convenient drug-take back events statewide where unused, expired or no longer needed medications may be dropped off. Having unused medications at home increases risks of accidental poisoning especially in homes with children, teens or elderly family members. Proper disposal also helps to keep prescription drugs from entering our water supplies and the ocean.

For more information on proper medication disposal, go to or