Drug Take Back Day is Saturday; dump your expired, unused medications safely at 2 locations in Lawrence

Got expired or unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications? Law enforcement is planning an event that could spur you to declutter your medicine cabinet — and, more importantly, to help keep those drugs out of the wrong hands.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, as part of a national initiative, is planning a Drug Take Back Day this weekend. Unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs will be collected from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at two locations: inside Hy-Vee at 4000 W. Sixth St., and in the parking lot on the east side of the downtown Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St. (near the intersection of 11th and Rhode Island streets).

Veterinary drugs will be accepted, but the sheriff’s office cannot accept inhalers, needles or other sharp objects. There is no charge, and dropoff is anonymous.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including home medicine cabinets, according to a news release from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Additionally, traditional methods for getting rid of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — pose potential safety and health hazards and should be avoided.

“Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment,” Schmidt said. “Diversion of opioid painkillers, in particular, can contribute to the misuse of these drugs that has become a serious nationwide problem. Getting leftover medicines out of the medicine cabinets and safely destroyed keeps them from falling into the wrong hands.”

At Douglas County’s last Drug Take Back Day, in April, the sheriff’s office collected nearly 1,000 pounds of medications. According to the attorney general’s office, since the program began in 2010, more than 58 tons of unwanted meds have been collected and destroyed statewide.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.