Law enforcement agencies across the nation this weekend want people to open their medicine cabinets to check for expired, unused and unwanted medication.
“For people who are abusing prescription drugs, the most common place that they are getting this stuff is from home, the medicine chest, the leftovers,” said Scott Collier, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman in St. Louis.
Prescription drugs known as controlled substances, like Adderall, are particularly dangerous because they’re hard to dispose of. Throwing them in the trash creates the risk of someone else using or selling them, and flushing them down the toilet can be harmful to the water supply.
“The controlled substances are the products that we want to get out of households so we don’t have any problems with anybody taking them and selling them, those types of things,” said Pat Hubbell, a co-owner and pharmacist-in-charge of Sigler Pharmacy’s at 4951 W. 18th St.
With the DEA’s help, Lawrence and Douglas County law enforcement officials and other partners want to offer a way to safely dispose of the drugs.
“Any time that you have drugs that sit on a counter or in a cabinet that can be expired or exposed to children or a high school kid who could possibly sell it to someone else, those are drugs out there that are wanted by people, and that’s the reason we want to get rid of them,” said Lawrence police Sgt. Matt Sarna.
Lawrence police and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will operate a site as part of national “Take-Back Day” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The service is free and anonymous. Hubbell, who will assist with the program, said the medication will be destroyed in an incinerator. Collier said the DEA will cover that cost and that more than 3,000 sites nationwide are expected to participate on Saturday.
Hubbell and his staff on Tuesday displayed at their store a large plastic tub of unwanted medication on the counter that they plan to destroy. Pharmacies can accept some unwanted medications, but they can’t take controlled substances, he said.
The city of Lawrence offers Douglas County residents a year-round service to destroy pharmaceuticals by calling 832-3030, but the city can’t accept narcotics and controlled substances either. If you can’t make it to a drop-off site, health officials recommend mixing cat litter or coffee grounds plus water with medication and making sure it is in a container before throwing it away.
Collier said the DEA wants to gauge turnout this weekend before deciding whether to schedule future events.