Before drug-disposal receptacles became commonplace in communities, residents had two days a year during which to dispose of expired or unused medications.
Now, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Days are used by most local agencies to spread awareness about safe disposal of prescriptions.
“Drug Take Back and drug collection boxes are important because they allow people to safely dispose of prescription drugs. It also helps mitigate the risk of unused or unwanted drugs being on the streets and in our communities,” said Elkland Borough Police Officer Daniel Bump.
He said his department is using the upcoming Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24, to host a large-scale collection. Residents can drop off expired or unused medications 10 a.m.-2 p.m. that day at the Elkland fire department next to the borough building.
Items that can’t be accepted include syringes, needles or other sharps, inhalers, aerosol cans, mercury thermometers, medications containing iodine, and illegal drugs or substances.
“We like to use the Take Back Days to reiterate the importance of getting rid of unused medications so they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” said Jim Bodine, Wellsboro Police Chief. “Prescription dugs are often a segue to worse drugs — heroin, opioids.”
Galeton Police Chief Ian Creech said in addition to the chance of drugs being found or stolen, there’s an environmental aspect to disposing of medications properly.
“We don’t want them to end up in our waterways,” he said. “So, we don’t want people to flush medications or put them down the sink.”
Blossburg Police Chief Josh McCurdy said Blossburg does not accept sharps and liquids, for which he refers residents to their local pharmacy for disposal assistance.
McCurdy said he also uses the twice-yearly Drug Take Back Days to stress the importance of proper drug disposal to residents.
“It’s so important to get these medications taken care of and properly secured so they’re not left in people’s residences and on the street where they’re available to users,” he said. “We know there’s a major problem in our area when it comes to drugs and we’re seeing more and more addicts. We’re doing what we can to help these folks get sober and stay sober, so it’s best to get these drugs off the street.”
In addition to keeping prescription drugs off the streets and out of accessible outdoor trash cans, Coudersport Borough Police Chief Curt McClain said cleaning out medicine cabinets is important.
“We see drugs get into the hands of juveniles getting into their grandparents’ medicine cabinets,” he said.
This year, the DEA says it’s accepting vape pens and e-cigarettes as long as the batteries are removed. If the batteries can’t be removed, consumers should check with large electronic chain stores or a local Hazardous Materials Management Facility for disposal.
Drug Take Back Day in October 2020 resulted in 4,153 participating law enforcement agencies nationwide with 4,587 sites collecting a total of 985,392 pounds (492.7 tons) of prescription medications.
For more information on the proper disposal of medications or Drug Take Back Day, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov. For more information on prescription drug abuse, visit www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com or www.JustThinkTwice.com.