Police Chief Hollis Alexander said the aim of the program is to collect powerful drugs that are beneficial to patients, but can also fall into the wrong hands if left to accumulate in homes. People will be able to turn in pills, powders and other solid medicines anonymously and without fear of prosecution. The department will then safely destroy the medications by incinerating them.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway recently cited an Office of National Drug Control Policy report that said the non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. In Kentucky, prescription drug overdose deaths have more than doubled from 403 in 2000 to nearly 980 in 2009. Today, there are more overdose deaths in the Commonwealth than traffic fatalities, Conway said.
Some prescription painkillers – which produce highs similar to heroin use – are among the most popularly abused substances. Cadiz Police have investigated numerous cases where the drugs were stolen from homes and pharmacies. Such drugs in household medicine cabinets can also be lure for children and teens who either use the medication or sell them.
Also of concern is the commonly held belief that it’s acceptable to flush old medicines down the toilet. Officials discourage that practice – unless medications specifically indicate that they can be flushed – because of the public health implications of drugs entering the ecosystem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high. More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Studies show that the majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends for free, including from the home medicine cabinet. Many Americans simply do not know how to properly dispose of their unused or expired medicine, often flushing it down the toilet or throwing it away. These methods can pose both safety and environmental hazards.
There will be a disposal unit available at the Cadiz Police Department, 11 Marion Street, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants may dispose of medication in its original container or by removing the medication from its container and disposing of it directly into the disposal box.
All solid dosage pharmaceutical product and liquids in consumer containers may be accepted. Liquid products, such as cough syrup, should remain sealed in their original container. The depositor should ensure that the cap is tightly sealed to prevent leakage.
Intra-venous solutions, injectable, and syringes will not be accepted due to potential hazard posed by blood-borne pathogens.
Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative and should not be placed in collection containers.
“This program is unique because the police will not ask for any identification, and it’s free. People can come into the police department and simply drop their medication into a secure box,” said Chief Alexander.
The National Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, however, the Cadiz Police Department will be participating immediately.