Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Lindsay Vaughn
When not disposed of properly, old prescription medications can leach into the environment or be found and abused.
The Bureau/Putnam County Community Partners Against Substance Abuse and local law enforcement agencies are taking a proactive approach to preventing these problems by participating in National Take Back Day.
Citizens can bring unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs to the Princeton Police Department for the collection event 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
The national program is a U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration initiative. The Princeton Police Department is hosting the local event for CPASA.
“It’s kind of a derivative of our P2D2 program, but the DEA is on board now and that really helps a lot,” said Princeton’s Deputy Chief Allan Beaber.
P2D2 — a prescription drug disposal program — has given Bureau and Putnam county residents a safe place to get rid of unwanted prescription meds since last summer. Through a partnership with CPASA, the Princeton Police Department, Spring Valley Police Department, Bureau County Sheriff’s Department and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office have provided secure drop-off boxes in their stations.
After Saturday’s event, the DEA will collect and dispose of any drugs Princeton police collect.
“This is one day when anybody and everybody can bring their drugs into the police department. It will be secured and stored, and a day later the DEA will come and transport it and incinerate it for us. There’s no cost to the police department or anybody,” said Beaber. Another one-day event will be held this fall, Beaber added.
About two weeks ago, the DEA picked up more than 1,300 pounds of pills that the Princeton Police Department had already collected.
“We had one room back here that was just filled with boxes and bags of unused and outdated prescription drugs. 1,300 pounds. Look how much of that is not in our water system, not in our land, and there won’t be the opportunity for a person to take those and abuse them,” said Beaber.
According to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, and every day, about 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.
On the first-ever National Take Back Day last fall, law enforcement agencies throughout the country took in more than 121 tons of pills.
At that time, CPASA was still getting local agencies started with the ongoing P2D2 program and couldn’t participate in the national event, but CPASA coordinator Dawn Conerton is excited to take part now.
“We’re still going to be doing the ongoing program throughout Bureau and Putnam counties, but this is a program where we can support the DEA and the DEA supports us,” Conerton said.