Prescription Drug Take Back Day flushes out unwanted medications

Saturday, June 12, 2010 | 5:53 p.m. CDT; updated 12:11 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 13, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia provided the community with an opportunity to safely get rid of unwanted prescription drugs Saturday thanks to the Youth Community Coalition and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

Prescription Drug Take Back Day was held at both Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools from 8:30 a.m. to noon. There were events at the same time in Ashland, Sturgeon, Centralia, Hallsville and Harrisburg.

The event aimed to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and to keep teens safe by disposing of old medications, according to a previous Missourian article. The article said many over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs have been increasingly misused.

Prevention Specialist Heather Harlan, who is also a member of the Youth Community Coalition, said this event helps make the whole community safe.  

“It’s not just about kids abusing drugs," Harlan said. "Other adults have access to leftover drugs and abusing them.”

As of 10:30 a.m., thousands of pills and some liquid medications were collected at Rock Bridge. The collected pills were put into 5-gallon baskets after being counted, and they will be disposed of as stated in the previous article.

Harlan said about 24 individuals each brought a bag full of their unwanted pills to Hickman, and they were happy to get rid of them.

“I wish they had done this sooner,” Columbia resident Bette Flanagan said after turning in her old medications. “I’m sure there have been lots of people who wanted to safely dispose their drugs but didn’t know how. It’s good that they are doing this.”

Another resident Phyllis Ward participated and said, “It’s a good way to keep drugs from being out there misused by anyone.”

The turning-in process was as simple as signing a consent sheet to hand over medications.

“All you need to do is clean out your medications and bring them over,” Linda Frost, a volunteer of the coalition, said.

Many people from different organizations, such as the Columbia Police Department, MU Wellness Resource Center, the coalition and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, volunteered.

“I’m concerned about young people having access to their parents' and grandparents’ old medications,” said Tiffany Bowman, coordinator at the Wellness Resource Center. 

Two young volunteers from the Boone County Sheriff's Department Explorer Post 2121 were also at the event to help keep people from prescription drug abuse.

The drop-off day was also a way to let people know that they shouldn’t flush prescription medications down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Lucas Blount, who works at the resource center, said drug residues could enter the water supply if they are flushed.

Instead, the Food and Drug Administration has guidelines to safely dispose of prescription drugs when there is no drop-off day, including:

  • Take the drugs out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who might intentionally go through your trash.
  • Put them in a sealed bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking through a garbage bag.

Another take back day is scheduled to take place Nov. 13 at MU, Blount said. Boone County Sheriff's Deputy James Fowley said the total number of medications collected would be announced early next week.   

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