Elizabethton Police Department teams up with ETSU for Drug Take Back Day

As the opioid epidemic and the recent vaping incidents continue to make the news, the Elizabethton Police Department continued its annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday, providing the community with access to a safe method of disposal that does not put their lives or the lives of their family at risk.

Sgt. Willard Johnson said the event provides the community a way to safely dispose of unwanted medications.

“It keeps medication from getting into the wrong hands,” Johnson said.

He said the recent news about the community’s opioid epidemic only strengthens the event’s necessity. This year, they also began accepting vape cartridges, as well.

“All of this will be incinerated,” he said. “It will not go back to the public.”

That is after the students from East Tennessee State University’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy catalog and document everything the public brings in, however.

While the report is mostly for the students themselves, he said the four or five students they send represent a global effort to curb substance abuse in the region.

“They are from all parts of the country,” Johnson said. “We have a citizen from China here.”

Despite the wider scope of products and medications they accept, however, Johnson said they still do not accept needles, though those can be taken to a local hospital for a similar service. The box also does not accept illegal substances such as marijuana.

The event represents a state-wide initiative for years, aiming to reduce substance abuse by providing more accessible ways of removing medications, since a large portion of substance abusers start with medications they find in their own homes.

In addition to the yearly take back event, the EPD has a drug box in their main office that will accept the same materials from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Both the event and the box are completely anonymous.

“There are no questions asked,” Johnson said.

For more information about the box or other methods to safely dispose of unwanted medications, contact the police department at 423-542-4141. To access the drop box, their address is 525 East F St.

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