It was 10:15 a.m. Friday morning. The Drug Take Back Day had begun at 10 a.m. on the parking lot of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s 15 minutes into it and we have had nine vehicles,” Dan Palmer, Director of the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, said. “The volume, with nine vehicles, has been great.”
Three people were already busy pouring bag after bag, bottle after bottle, of medications into the disposal unit.
Palmer said the Take Back is every year, mostly in April, and they accept all types of medications including syringes. That isn’t the case with the drop box that is located in the sheriff’s office year round.
“It can be used from 8 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.) Monday through Friday,” Chief Deputy Todd Miller said. “Pills only. No liquids. No needles. No patches. We prefer that they just dump all the pills into a Zip-Loc bag and just drop that baggie in the box. That’s the perfect way to do it. That way we don’t have to dispose of the bottles and they worry about names on the bottles, so just put them all in a Zip-Loc and then drop them in a box.”
In addition to pills in a myriad of colors and sizes, conspicuous in the dispenser was a stack of Fentanyl patches. In recent months Fentanyl-laced heroin has become a problem locally with scores of overdoses.
“It’s amazing what we collect,” Palmer said. “But I’m glad we do it and the EPA, of course, encourages it. It’s a good program. People depend on this. The phone calls that we received after the articles in the paper want to know where and what the hours are.”
Palmer said the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office parking lot is perfect for the event because people can drive through, hand out their pills and they never need to leave their cars. One of those people was Brenda Reed.
“My mother and father passed away so it’s their’s,” Reed said. “I didn’t know what else to do with it, there’s so much of it.”
The sheriff’s office is a natural partner in the endeavor.
“Lawrence-Scioto County Waste needs a place to do it. It’s convenient for people to come in an out,” Miller said. “We feel like it’s an important program. It helps people get rid of drugs they have no other way to get rid of. It gets them out of their cabinets. It’s a safe disposal for them.”
One of the problems with keeping unused medications in a medicine chest at home is the high rate of addicted people in the region.
“It’s just a fact – the older you get, the more medicine you take,” Miller said. “The young kids are looking for any kind of medicine, whether it be pain pills, nerve pills, anything they can get a hold of. So many times mom’s or grandpa’s medicine cabinet is the place to get it. It’s unbelievable the amount of pills they take in here in just a four hour period.”
Palmer said the Drug Take Back Day is a good way to get rid of unused medications because of the anonymity and the knowledge that they are being disposed of properly. Formerly people would flush the medications, but officials found the pills contaminated the water system.
“For years I have been preaching – please don’t flush – how it enters our water,” Palmer said. “The good news is that people are complying.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.