The prescription drug take-back event held last weekend in St. James yielded the collection of more than 80 pounds of medication.
St. James Police Chief Jim Anderson said the event, which is held every six months, invites residents to bring their leftover prescription and over-the-counter medications for proper disposal.
Not only is this environmentally viable, it helps keep certain controlled substances out of "the wrong hands," the chief said.
"We take any type of prescription medicine or over-the-counter meds – anything expired or just not being used any more," Anderson said. "This time there were a lot of prescription meds and legal controlled substances and turned in to us."
The event is a collaborative effort between the police department and the St. James Kiwanis Club.
Once the medication is collected, it is turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposal – in this case, incineration.
Anderson said the next take-back event is tentatively scheduled for October. In the mean time, citizens are encouraged to store their unused medications in a safe place until then.
Past events have yielded the collection of nearly 100 pounds in some cases, which indicates that citizens are aware of the need for proper disposal. According to the DEA, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 was passed in response to the increasing number of Americans who abuse prescription drugs.
A survey in 2011 indicated that more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs, and more than 70 percent of those people obtained said narcotics "through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet."
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, and heroin combined," according to the DEA Web site.
Prescription drug take back events are held annually across the U.S. and result in the collection and disposal of thousands of pounds of prescription medications every year.