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Safe disposal of unused meds helps prevent drug abuse

By Staff | Aug 12, 2014

Hughesville Police Chief Rodney Smith has seen some positive results since the delivery of the 'Med-Return' drug collection unit now located at the Borough office and can be used any time during open hours. "This helps keep the drugs from getting in the wrong hands," he said.

HUGHESVILLE – The Hughesville Borough office was pretty busy when the prescription drop off box first arrived according to Officer Rodney Smith, Chief of Police.

This is a good place to drop off any unwanted or expired prescription and over the counter drugs. They can be safely disposed of and not be crept into the environment, the water system or get into the wrong hands.

Chief Smith said that each borough will receive these designated drop off boxes and encourages residents to thoroughly clean out their medicine cabinets or cupboards.

The Lycoming County Heroin Task Force has asked each police department in the rural areas to monitor these boxes and promote their use. It is a known fact that prescription meds often preclude heroin use. “They want a better high,” said Smith, “and often will sell them for money to feed heroin addiction. Most who are on heroin, start on pain meds,” added Smith. “It is the starting point for using heroin.”

The Hughesville Borough was one of the first to receive the box which arrived in April. It was used quite frequently in the beginning until Muncy Borough got theirs about a month ago. “I had to empty it twice,” added Chief Smith. “It was so full, the lid wouldn’t close shut.

Montgomery expects to get one as soon as they decide where they want to locate it. Police Chief Ernie Delp said it will be placed either in the borough office or in the police station.

Prior to the arrival of the metal boxes, residents would only be able to drop off the items during the National Take Back Drug Day but now they can be dropped off anytime during borough hours at all three communities in the tri-town area.

There are certain items that are acceptable in the dispenser, but others such as needles and liquids are not.

The containers were provided through a funding source with the District Attorney’s office. Many households who have elderly members on prescriptions who have passed away are encouraged to dispose them as quickly and safely as possible. “It’s a very good thing,” said Chief Dorman from Muncy. Grandparents and parents bring in the expired and unused drugs instead of having them sit around.

“Be alert to young people asking to use your bathroom, and be sure to check your medicine cabinet afterwards,” cautions Chief Smith. The situation is getting worse according to law enforcement officials because the drugs are easier to get now. Smith has been an officer for 20 years and has seen the damaging effects of drug addiction and DUI’s during his career.

There have been more break-ins, especially automobiles, causing more thefts. “They are looking for loose change, cell phones, GPS systems, mobile devices…whatever it is, they will take it. Whatever is in there, is fair game,” he added and cautions everyone to keep cars and doors locked.

“We patrol the areas and try to catch them in the act,” Chief Dorman replied. “They’re not breaking windows, just checking unlocked doors,” Smith said. “They are stealing guns too and selling them.” Perpetrators can take shotguns and rifles to Gander Mountain for cash.

Dan Straley is a resource officer at Hughesville High School where he performs safety checks. Smith monitors the Lycoming Career and Technical Center.

The County’s DA office periodically collects all the medications and returns them to the court house where they are stored in the basement. The containers are metal, painted blue, heavy to lift, and locked at all times.

The following items are acceptable for the drop-off boxes:

Prescription medications, prescription patches, prescription ointments, OTC’s, vitamins & supplements, samples and medications for pets.

Not accepted are liquids, thermometers, needles & sharps, ointments & lotions, aerosol cans, and inhalers.

Chief Smith urges, “If you find needles, please don’t touch them. Call your local police and they will dispose of them.”

The dispensary boxes are sponsored by the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol, the PA Commission on Crime & Delinquency, the PA District Attorney’s Office and the Staunton Farm Foundation.

Currently legislation has been introduced by Congressman Tom Marino to enhance collaboration between drug suppliers and regulators in order to secure a supply chain that protects the needs of patients. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act has been passed by the House to fight prescription drug abuse.