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Police to take old drugs

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:23 PM

In an effort to curb prescription drug abuse and theft, a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is set for Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s district office in Nashville, as well as other DEA offices throughout the state, are again partnering with local, state, national and tribal law enforcement agencies and officials and community coalition groups to hold its eighth drug take-back day nationally.

The one-day event is to provide the public with the convenience of ridding their homes of potentially dangerous prescription drugs. 

Throughout the timeframe Saturday, the public will be able to drop off expired, unused and unwanted pills at different predetermined sites, free of charge and no questions asked. 

Locally, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department will participate with a take-back location set up at Crye-Leike Realtors at 1432 W. Main St. in Lebanon.

Lt. Scott Moore with the Wilson County Sheriffs Department said this is the department’s third year participating in the campaign, and they plan on doing it every six months, usually in October and April.

“It’s getting bigger and better every year, and it’s been a good event ever since we started doing it,” Moore said. “We’re hoping for a good turnout again.”

Moore said the event is a good way to get unwanted and expired prescriptions off the street.

“It’s no questions asked. You just pull up, and you don’t even have to get out of the car, and we’ll come and get the medications, put them in a bag and dispose of them and have them incinerated,” Moore said.

Lebanon police will also again participate with a take-back location set up at Walgreen’s on South Cumberland Street.

According to the DEA, the most recent drug take-back day was held in October, where Tennesseans safely and properly turned over more than 10,000 pounds of medication. Nationally, Americans turned it 324 tons, around 647,000 pounds, of medications at more than 4,000 take-back sites. In seven attempts, the DEA and partners have now taken back more than 3.4 million pounds of pills.

The DEA continues to hold drug take-back days to prevent unused prescriptions medications in homes from creating public health and safety concerns, due to pills susceptibility of accidental ingestions, theft, misuse and abuse.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, twice as many Americans—around 6.8 million—currently abuse prescription drugs compared to those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that more Americans died in 2010 from overdoses of prescription drugs than from car accidents. The numbers include more than 22,000 deaths, with more than 16,000 being from narcotic painkillers.

“It is extremely important to remove unused medications if they are no longer being used as intended,” Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner E. Douglas Varney said. “More than 1,000 Tennesseans die each year from drug overdoses, and many of those deaths could be prevented if all unused prescription medication were disposed of properly.”

A majority of survey takers said they abused prescription drugs that they got from family and friends, including a medicine cabinet at home.

“DEA is collaborating with a multitude of community and law enforcement partners to show our commitment to decrease addiction caused by pharmaceutical drugs,” said Harry Sommers, special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “This campaign provides a safe and environmentally sound way for Americans to dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications. Through this collaborative effort, we will eliminate a major source for abused prescription drugs and make our communities safer.”

Only pills and solids, such as patches, can be brought in for disposal. No liquids or needles will be collected.

To find a nearby collection site, visit dea.gov and click on the “Got Drugs?” icon or call 800-882-9539.

This campaign is held twice a year and helps raise awareness of the permanent prescription-drug-disposal boxes that have been established around the nation. 

Currently, there are 86 permanent prescription drug disposal boxes at law enforcement facilities in 48 counties across Tennessee. 

Law enforcement professionals recommend the use of these permanent boxes throughout the year to reduce the possibility of theft and accidental overdose. In Wilson County, a permanent box is set up at the Mt. Juliet Police Department at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road and is available at all times.

For a list of other permanent exposal boxes, visit the TDMHSAS website at tn.gov/mental.

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