More than 135 people participated in a prescription drug take-back program in Lawrence on Saturday, a number that increased over last year’s totals of about 100 people.
Public safety officers, along with other volunteers, set up a tent outside the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center and collected unused drugs from anyone willing to drop them off.
After collection, they will be incinerated by the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Lewis.
In total, 229 pounds of drugs were collected this year, he said. That’s an increase of 49 pounds over last year’s total.
It’s important to dispose of drugs properly, he said, because of an increasing concern for the environment and for the drugs’ potential to become misused or abused by others in the home. The Controlled Substances Act limits the ways a person can legally dispose of unused prescription drugs, Lewis said.
Throwing the drugs away can lead to their introduction into the water supply, where they can contaminate wildlife and the water.
The program was sponsored by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Lawrence Police Department, with assistance from the DEA and volunteers from Lawrence’s Sigler Pharmacy.
The DEA is helping with similar programs across the country.
Pat Hubbell, pharmacist for Sigler Pharmacy, said he thought that interest was increasing in the movement to properly dispose of drugs.
“The volume of drugs keeps going up,” he said. “But it’s also the green movement.”
During times when public safety officers aren’t collecting pills, members of the public may make an appointment with the Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility by calling 832-3030, but they have some limitations on the kinds of drugs they can accept. Narcotics and controlled substances, for example, aren’t allowed.
Experts say proper disposal of drugs can be accomplished by crushing or dissolving pills in water, making a paste of the dissolved pills or liquid medication by adding it to kitty litter or coffee grounds. After creating the paste, it can be placed in a closed container and put in the trash.
Anyone disposing of prescription drugs should make sure to remove labels that could identify them from the medication.