Ditch unused drugs safely: Anonymous, free program helps with disposal

The public has an opportunity to help prevent drug abuse and addiction in Jackson County on Saturday by safely disposing of unwanted medications at several designated drug take back sites.

There’s no better time to clean out medicine cabinets and drawers of old or unused prescription and over-the-counter medications, said Brenda Turner, director of the Jackson County Drug-Free Council.

“After a month of the county celebrating the drug-free message of the Red Ribbon campaign, we want residents to ensure that unwanted medications are properly disposed of,” Turner said.

Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash poses potential safety, health and environmental hazards.

“By participating in the drug take back day, residents are helping prevent potential overdoses, drug abuse and theft of medications,” Turner said.

There will be five drop-off locations Saturday for the free and anonymous drop-off service. There will be no questions asked or forms to fill out, Turner said.

The five sites are from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Freetown Community Center (6789 N. Union St.), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jackson County Health Department (801 W. Second St., Seymour), 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Medora Senior Center (52 W. Main St.), 2 to 4 p.m. at the Brownstown Senior Center (124 S. Main St.) and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Crothersville Senior Center (114 E. Main St.).

Medications also can be dropped off year-round at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Seymour Police Department or Crothersville Police Department.

Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator with the Jackson County Health Department, said the drug take back initiative prevents people from gaining access to potentially dangerous drugs.

“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse,” she said.

Family members may have been prescribed an opioid pain medication for a surgery or injury but are no longer taking it or need it, Montgomery said.

“If it is not a drug you currently need, drop it off,” she said. “You can let go of the worry of accidental overdose or possible home burglary when you drop it off at one of the locations on Saturday,”

Last spring, Americans turned in 450 tons of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and more than 4,200 state and local law enforcement partners.

Overall, in its 13 previous drug take back events, more than 8.1 million pounds of pills have been collected for disposal.

Seymour Police Chief Bill Abbott said rates of prescription drug abuse and the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to those drugs are alarmingly high.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, he said.

“It’s important that residents lock up their medications or know how to dispose of it,” he said. “We want to make it easy for residents to dispose of unwanted drugs.”

At a glance

There will be five medication drop-off locations Saturday. There will be no questions asked or forms to fill out. The service is free and anonymous.

The five sites are from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Freetown Community Center (6789 N. Union St.), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jackson County Health Department (801 W. Second St., Seymour), 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Medora Senior Center (52 W. Main St.), 2 to 4 p.m. at the Brownstown Senior Center (124 S. Main St.) and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Crothersville Senior Center (114 E. Main St.).

Medications also can be dropped off year-round at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Seymour Police Department or Crothersville Police Department.

There are a few recommendations to follow for those who wish to bring their medications to the drop-off sites.

Remove all identifying marks — names, address, physician or other marks — from the prescription bottles.

Only pills and/or patches will be accepted.

No illegal drugs will be accepted.

No inhalers or iodine-containing medications will be accepted.

No diabetic sharps will be accepted. The health department has a sharps disposal program for Jackson County residents.

Mercury thermometers are another item that cannot be accepted but can be exchanged for a digital thermometer through another program that the health department provides.

For information about the Drug Take Back Day or how to get involved in the Jackson County Drug-Free Council, call Brenda Turner at 812-216-2229 or email drugfree@frontier.com.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.