According to local officials in one small community in Southern Illinois, this spring a program, known as the National Take Back Initiative, meant to keep unused and outdated prescription drugs out of the wrong hands and as a way to let the public safely dispose of unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs, has removed over 50 pounds out of people’s medicine cabinets.
Rachel Tally is the methamphetamine coordinator for the Union County Sheriff’s Office. She and other members of the sheriff’s office collected 58 pounds of prescription medicine that members of the public brought to a drop-off point in Anna where the county’s meth response trailer had been set up for a National “Take Back” event.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which sponsors the National Take Back Initiative, the event in April took in over 188 tons of unwanted or expired prescription drugs nationwide, a 55 percent increase from the first “Take Back” day last September.
Although the sheriff’s office collected about the same amount as before, Tally said, in a phone interview, that the DEA reported that the percentage increase was even better throughout Southern Illinois last fall, with double the number of drugs that were collected in 2010. Tally said the Village of Cobden also participated and collected about 50 pounds of prescription medicines.
According to a DEA press release on May 6, As a result of an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act, the administration is developing “a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs.”
“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the first two Take-Back events is simply staggering – 309 tons – and represents a clear need for a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in the press release. “DEA is hard at work establishing a drug disposal process and will continue to offer take-back opportunities until the proper regulations are in place.”
The sheriff’s office has used its meth trailer as the drop-off point for both events. Tally said that DEA plans another “Take Back” event again this September. Not only can people drop off their prescription drugs during that time, they will also be able talk to members of the sheriff’s office about community efforts to combat illegal drugs, pick up literature about meth awareness and other programs sponsored by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The meth response trailer, which was obtained through a Cops Meth Initiative Grant in December 2009, is set up during other events.
“We take it to any kind of event that we’re involved with,” said Tally, who said that it has also been used during community events so parents can bring their children for fingerprinting and identification.
Most recently, the trailer was set up during a fund-raising event for Two Rivers Child Advocacy Center, which serves the county.
“We’ve used it at the park during the fair and the National Night Out. We have information on drugs, drug safety. We put out coloring books for the kids on public safety, general information for kids such as how to dial 911,” Tally said.
Sources: Drug Enforcement Administration (http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html); Union County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office