Countywide Drug Take Back Day

Anyone anxious to get those unused pills out of the medicine cabinet can take them to any of the seven locations throughout Washington County hosting safe drop-off locations for National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

An initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency and sponsored locally by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the spring collection day is held to provide easy and safe places for people to dispose of medications rather than dumping them down the toilet or leaving them at risk of being stolen.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, anyone can anonymously and easily take any medication they no longer use or want to locations across the county, where officials will be collecting items to turn over to the Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposal.

“Our objective is to get the drugs out of the medicine cabinets so they’re not readily acceptable to members of the younger generation,” said Sheriff Larry Mincks.

The event is held twice a year, once in spring and once in fall and is completely free for the community to help protect the environment, families and children.

“There may be people out there that don’t know how to get rid of drugs they have and are reluctant to pour them down the drain or trash them,” Mincks said. “This is a safe opportunity for us to take care of that for them.”

Mincks said the department will take any drug, though they are focused on prescriptions, and always hope to collect more in painkillers and opiates, as they pose the most risk.

“Medicine cabinets with drugs in them are a primary target for young people who are seeking to get high, and are also targets for people breaking and entering,” Mincks said.

The sheriff’s department has a collection center at its offices that people can use 24/7, and Mincks said the department encourages people to drive there rather than flushing them or tossing them, where they can get into the water supply or into wrong hands.

“We are particularly pleased to host this because we really urge seniors to make use of such an event as a true safety measure,” said Susie Casto, the manager of the Belpre Senior Center, which has served as a drop-off site for several years. “I think we don’t give enough thought about our medications unless we really need them, and there’s stuff in the medicine cabinet that goes unnoticed.”

Casto said because seniors are often perceived to have more medications than what might be considered usual, they can become targets.

Several locations reported that a lot of the traffic they see during the events is seniors.

“They have spouses that pass and they might have more medications around, and this day provides a good way to get rid of them,” said Charlene Parsons from White Oak Pharmacy in Vincent, another one of Washington County’s drop-off locations.

Parsons said throughout the several years she has been at the pharmacy, there is always a lot of participation, and the pharmacy strives to educate customers about the dangers of improperly disposing of pills.

The sheriff’s department drop-off sites, which will be staffed with a deputy, several volunteers and a nurse, will accept anything from pills to syringes to liquid vials.

The DEA comes to collect all pills, and the sheriff’s department, in partnership with the Memorial Health System, properly disposes and incinerates the needles and liquids the DEA does not accept.

Sheriff’s deputy Beth Mayle said the department tends to collect about 200 pounds of pills at each event.

“We’re most concerned with children,” Mayle said. “We want them out of the house, because you don’t want kids to get into them.”