Agencies partner to help residents dispose of medicines properly

Published 5:46 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Residents will have the opportunity this weekend to clean out their medicine cabinets and make their homes safer by disposing of old or unwanted medications at a special “Drug Take Back” event.

Each year, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services partners with the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies to collect expired or unwanted medications at various sites.

On Saturday, Elizabethton will play host to two collections sites — The Carter County Sheriff’s Office in front of the jail located at 900 E. Elk Avenue and the Elizabethton Police Department located at 525 E. F St., near downtown. Both events sites will be active that day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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This year marks the first time in recent years the Sheriff’s Office has participated in the event and Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford is encouraging residents to clean out their cabinets and dispose of the medications they no longer use or need.

“It cuts down, I think, on crime in general,” Lunceford said of the collection events.

If people keep medications in their home, it can make them a target for people breaking into their home to obtain the medicines, Lunceford said.

Disposing of prescriptions no long in use also helps improve safety for the residents.

“For children, it takes away the opportunity they may accidentally get into them,” Lunceford said. “It also gives people an opportunity to safely dispose of them who might not know how to do that.”

The Elizabethton Police Department has participated in the Drug Take Back event for several years.

During the early years, the department collected a lot of unused medications said Sgt. Will Johnson of the Criminal Investigations Division.

“It’s really slowed down because there are drop boxes in so many places,” Johnson said.

The Elizabethton Police Department and the Carter County Sheriff’s Office both have permanent collection bins located at their facilities that residents can visit at any time to dispose of medications. Some retail pharmacy chains also offer collection bins for medication disposal.

“We get an average of 50 to 60 pounds in our drug drop box each month,” Johnson said. “It’s a good service.”

Disposing of unwanted medications can also help combat drug problems within the community.

“We know that around 70 percent of users access drugs at home for the first time,” said Jillian Reece, Director of the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition. “It’s important that we count our medication, keep it locked up, and dispose of it when we’re done.”

This event provides a safe way for residents to dispose of their medication, Reece said. In years past, many residents were advised to flush unwanted or expired medications down the toilet, but studies have shown that can allow the medication to seep into the water supply and flushing is no longer considered the proper disposal method.

Reece said information regarding the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition will be available during the Drug Take Back Event for anyone who is interested in the organization or becoming a part of it. For more information on the CCDP, visit their Facebook page.

Residents who are not able to make it to one of the Drug Take Back sites are encouraged to dispose of their medications using the drop box at the Elizabethton Police Department or in the lobby of the jail at the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.