Prescription drug drop boxes set up in Carroll County

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Residents across Carroll County now have access to secure and convenient prescription drug disposal.

Region 1 Regional Prevention Provider (RPP) has set up four prescription drug drop-off locations in the county. The drop-off boxes are located at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) in Berryville, the Eureka Springs Police Department, the Green Forest Police Department and the Holiday Island Fire Department.

RPP representative Codi McCuistion said Region 1 RPP covers Washington, Benton, Madison and Carroll counties. The organization’s main goal, she said, is substance abuse prevention and education.

“We worked with local health coalitions and law enforcement to raise awareness on prescription drugs,” McCuistion said. “With our grants, we do things like hold prescription drug take-back events and promote drop-off locations with fliers and other advertisement.”

This year, she said RPP wanted to provide drop-off boxes to all of the local law enforcement agencies.

“We actually had the funds to take things a step further, so we wanted to provide the boxes to all the local law enforcement agencies in the areas we cover,” McCuistion said.

RPP bought three large drop-off boxes for Berryville, Eureka Springs and Holiday Island and set them up last week, she said. CCSO had previously had a small prescription drug drop-off box, she said, so they gave theirs to the Green Forest Police Department after installing the larger drop-off box.

“Since Berryville and Green Forest are close together, we went ahead and did a big one for CCSO,” McCuistion said. “They transferred their small one to Green Forest. Then our other one went to Eureka Springs, and they felt Holiday Island was a good place to have one as well.”

RPP representative Laurie Reh said the drop-off boxes, known as “med return boxes,” provide a safe way to dispose of prescription drugs.

“So many out-of-date, expired and unused medications come from homes, where kids are getting their hands on them and abusing them,” Reh said. “A lot of people just don’t know where to take them, and improper disposal goes on.”

She continued, “These drop-off boxes provide a safe way to dispose of prescription meds because you can’t break into them.”

Once the med return boxes are filled, Reh said he prescription drugs are collected and taken away to be incinerated. This way, she said, the drugs can’t be abused.

McCuistion said the three additional drop-off locations will make prescription drug disposal more manageable for law enforcement agencies in Carroll County.

“Originally, the sheriff’s office had a smaller box, and the other local agencies were still receiving pills,” she said. “People were returning them, and they didn’t have anywhere to put them. So they would hold some and eventually turn it over to CCSO, who kind of stored it for everyone.”

“It got unmanageable at certain times,” Reh said. “The additional boxes should help a lot.”

According to the website ARTakeBack.org, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director and numerous agencies in Arkansas recommend using medicine take-back programs as the best way to dispose of unwanted medicines. Trash disposal should be used only as a last resort, the site says, until all communities have convenient take-back options.

The site says that medicines should not be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain because they can end up polluting water systems, impacting aquatic species and contaminating food and water supplies. Most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems, it says, and even very low levels of medicines in the environment hurt aquatic life.

The site cautions that throwing medicines in the trash does not ensure that children and pets cannot get to them. There is an epidemic of accidental poisoning from medicines in homes, it says, and children are the most common victims. Also, the site says human medications are the leading cause of pet poisoning, most often from trash-related toxic exposures.

“Our state motto for dealing with prescription drugs is ‘Monitor, secure, dispose,’ ” McCuistion said. “Always be sure to dispose of your prescriptions properly.”

Reh said one of RPP’s goals is to educate people about proper disposal versus improper disposal. Part of that process, she said, includes the establishment of drop-off locations and advertising those spots to the community. If residents use the drop-off locations, she said it helps keep prescription drugs out of people’s hands and out of the water system.

“We will provide fliers to each of these locations as well as other public venues in the county,” Reh said. “In the long run, I think this will be very good for Carroll County.”

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