EPD, DEA partner up to help residents safely dispose of old, unused medication

Published 8:53 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

Later this month, the Elizabethton Police Department will be partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to help residents prevent prescription drug abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Elizabethton Police Department, which is located at 525 E. F St.

The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

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Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons — more than 702,000 pounds — of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds — more than 2,750 tons — of pills.

Locally, the events have seen a large turnout as well according to Elizabethton Police Department Sgt. Willard Johnson who helps coordinate the event.

“We usually average getting anywhere from 50-75 pounds of medication,” he said.

The police department also works with the East Tennessee State University College of Pharmacy for the event.

“They come over here and categorize everything for us and give us a printout of what all was turned in for our records on the event,” Johnson said. “They seal everything up and it is disposed of.”

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to theft, misuse, and abuse.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For those who cannot make it to the drug take back event, a disposal box is located in the lobby of the Elizabethton Police Department and is available to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Another disposal box is located in the lobby of the Carter County Detention Center and is available to the public 24 hours a day.