LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Laurel Police collected boxes of old medicine Saturday, part of "National Drug Take Back Day"
The Laurel Police Department, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, gave the community the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service was free and anonymous, no questions asked.
"Seems to be a needy thing, with all the boxes we have here so very worthwhile," said laurel Police Captain Tommy Cox.
Cox said he believed there were at least 100 pound of old medications collected Saturday morning.
"It's not going to be used and if you dispose of it, there's no potential for abuse because it's gone," said Cox. "This is an environmentally-friendly and safe way and maybe your stopping an abuser from getting a hold of it."
This event addressed a vital public safety and public health issue. Cox said prescription pill abuse is not only a problem in Laurel, but across the country. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.
Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Supervisor Special Agent Toby Schwartz with the Drug Enforcement Agency was on-hand Saturday to take the collected drugs back to be disposed.
"It can accidentally get into the wrong hands very easily. You can have youth, minors, somebody who deals with an addiction. And they see it, come into your house, and it's just there," said Schwartz. "You don't think anything of it, but someone with an addiction - this keeps it from getting into the wrong hands."
Many agencies around the Pine Belt took part in the national event.