Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the National Drug Take Back Day, put on by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and several local police departments plan to participate.
“Take back day has been particularly successful in Washington County,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said in a Tuesday news release. “Several locations last October collected hundreds of pounds of unwanted medications. We have been doing this for several years now and the response has been fantastic.”
The event across the county, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., allows residents to safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications without threatening the environment.
“We’ve been doing it for 12 years,” said Canonsburg Mayor Dave Rhome. “We’ve given the people an opportunity to dispose of unwanted medications that they don’t really know what to do with.”
In those 12 years, Rhome said the community has responded extremely well to the program. In the two take-back days of 2019, Canonsburg collected 445 pounds of medications at the Shop ‘N Save store in the borough, he said.
“We don’t want it to go into the waterways or the landfill because we work to keep the environment as clean as possible,” Rhome said. “Most importantly, it’s getting those medications out of people’s cabinets, which helps to eliminate the potential for abuse.”
There are typically two take back days each year, one in April and one in October. According to Vittone, more than 492 tons of medications were turned in across the nation during the previous take back day in October.
“If people are unable to come on Saturday, many of the police departments within Washington County have secure boxes where the public can safely dispose of medications throughout the year.”
Washington is one of those departments, as it has a drug take back box in the station lobby.
“The city has been participating in the drug take back, I believe, since it was started,” Washington Police Chief Robert Wilson said. “It has been an overwhelming success and affords the community the chance to get rid of their unused medication in a safe and responsible way.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office will have a location set up Saturday at Mingo Creek County Park office. The Greene County Sheriff’s office will also be helping out at a 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. drive-thru location at the fairgrounds, which will be hosted by the Greene County Drug and Alcohol Commission.
“Our part of it is that they have to have a law enforcement officer on scene when they collect the drugs,” said Greene County Sheriff Marcus Simms. “It’s not meant for illegal drugs – that’s everyone’s misconception – it’s intended for prescriptions that people never finished.”
Tracie Sypin, a prevention specialist with Greene County’s Drug and Alcohol Commission, said she’s hoping for a good response Saturday, as they’ll be at a large outdoor space.
“People haven’t had a lot of opportunity to get out for something like this, especially because of the pandemic,” she said. “This just gives them a way to get rid of their medications. It will be drive-thru, so people don’t even have to get out of their vehicles.”
During their event, the commission will also give out Narcan to those in need and will offer a Deterra drug disposal pouch to take home. The pouch has a chemical compound in it that, when mixed with water and prescription pills, liquids or patches, deactivate the drugs. The entire bag can then be disposed.
The more drugs brought back during these events, Sypin said, the less likely it will be “for young kids to get into someone’s medicine cabinet or for someone with a substance abuse disorder to go to a relative’s home and try to take their medication.”