Drug drop box placed in Jackson Police Department

Monday, October 29, 2012

A place to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription medication is now in operation in Jackson.

The Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Southeast Missouri has purchased a permanent drug drop box for the safe disposal of prescription medications, and it is in the lobby of the Jackson Police Department. Residents will now be able to dispose of unwanted, unused and expired drugs at any hour of any day.

Mercedes Fort, project director of the coalition, said the box was made possible by funds from the Missouri Foundation for Health and that a permanent place for the disposal of prescription drugs was the next logical step for her organization.

"Since 2010, we've sponsored drug take-backs in both Cape and Jackson twice a year," Fort said. "People come by and drop off unwanted medications and the local DEA office collects and incinerates the drugs. In 2010, we had 82 pounds of medication dropped off. In 2011, we had 130 pounds. This year, for both of our take-back events, we had just over 800 pounds of medication. Clearly, this shows that a full-time facility is needed so that people won't have keep their old medications for drop-offs that happen only twice a year."

Fort said that her main concern is that unused drugs in medicine cabinets will be used by children.

"A growing number of kids in the area say that they get drugs from their parents' or their grandparents' medicine cabinets," Fort said. "As a lawyer who has served as a guardian ad litem for children in court, I've heard it with my own ears. It's quite troubling to me."

The drug drop-box is described by Fort as a year-round solution to a year-round problem. People wanting to get rid of their old medications can drop them off at the police station at any time with no questions asked, however, no liquid drugs or needles will be accepted. At the end of the month, the DEA will collect the drugs and weigh them before they are incinerated.

Lieutenant Scott Eakers of the Jackson Police Department shares Fort's concerns for young people.

"We're glad we have the box here at the station because our goal is to remove the threat of prescription drugs falling into the hands of children," Eakers said. "While we've gotten better in handling the flow of illegal drugs in our community, there's been a rise in the use of prescription medication in our schools. Kids are passing drugs like Xanax around to classmates. The trouble is, we usually don't catch them until they're already in a drugged state."

Eakers said that he hoped parents in Jackson and elsewhere in the county will take advantage of the box and quickly dispose of drugs that could potentially be used by their children. He also added that the practice of flushing drugs down the toilet is costly to the community.

"When people flush drugs, that means the community has to spend more for chemicals used in the sewer system. The build-up of drugs and their residue in the system must be neutralized, and it costs money to do that. We all have to pay."

Eakers reiterated that there are no questions asked when people bring their drugs to the box at the police station.

"We just want to see old medications somewhat removed from the equation of drug abuse. All people have to do is come by and toss them in the box. It's as easy as mailing a letter."

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

525 S. Hope St., Jackson, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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