By Emily Klein, Reporter
Programs and Services for Older Persons (PSOP), local law enforcement, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) teamed up this past Saturday, April 27 to host Madison and St. Clair County National Drug Take Back Event to combat the public safety and public health issue of prescription drug abuse, part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Although the event is over, many local law enforcements keep their drop box open 24/7.
On Saturday, unused, unwanted or expired prescription pills or patches were dropped off at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office or St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. The DEA reports that participation in Drug Take Back events can help curb the misuse and abuse of unused prescription pills.
The Edwardsville Police Department has had their drop box for 5 years, and like most prescription drug drop boxes, it’s open 24/7, according to Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven. Although they were not a part of the event on Saturday, other municipalities like Troy and Collinsville have drop boxes at each police department.
The initiative addresses an important public safety and health issue, as unused or expired medicines that sit in home cabinets for long periods of time can lead to abuse and misuse of prescription medications. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, which can cause accidental poisonings and overdoses. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows consistently over the years the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, and sometimes stolen from the home medicine cabinet.
“It’s all just one way to address the opioid crisis,” Keeven said. “I do believe as a whole Madison County does a pretty good job.”
People are also now advised that usual methods of disposing of unused prescription medicines, e.g. flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away both raise potential safety and health hazards. These methods also can be dangerous to landfills and the water system.
Just last fall, nearly 460 tons (over 900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs were turned in at more than 5,800 sites operated by the DEA. In the 16 years Take Back events have been going on, the DEA have taken in around 11 million pounds of prescription drugs. The Edwardsville Police Department alone routinely collects around 120–150 pounds of old drugs every three months.
“They do a fantastic job, and it works out very well for us,” Keeven said. Aside from this event, Edwardsville does two promotions a year with the help of Allied Waste/Republic Services.
Additional locations medicine could be dropped off for the events were: Madison County Administration Building parking lot, Edwardsville Police Department in the main lobby, East Alton Police Department, St. Clair County State’s Attorney at St Clair Courthouse, Swansea Police Department at Swansea Walgreens, Fairview Heights Police Department at St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights Police Station, O’Fallon Public Safety building, and the New Athens Police Department.
For more information about the Take Back Day events or where to find a location near you, go to www.DEATakeBack.com or call Senior Corps Programs at Southwestern Illinois College at 618-234-4410.