The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Sidney police host prescription drug take back day


National Drug Take Back Day will be held locally on Oct. 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Sidney Police Department.

Drug take back is a program set up by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and is a safe way for people to dispose of their unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications.

The medications are put into a sealed box and shipped to the DEA in St. Louis where they are incinerated.

“It’s really the only safe way to dispose of medications,” Curtis Hofrock said.

This will mark the fifth year that Sidney has participated in National Drug Take Back Day. Each year, anywhere from 25-50 people will show up to drop off old prescriptions. In the previous four years, the Sidney Police Department has safely disposed of more than 300 pounds of medication.

“First and foremost, we’re keeping those drugs out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” Hofrock explained. “Second, we don’t have people flushing them down the toilet, which is getting into our water system, or throwing them out a window, or putting them in a dumpster for somebody to find.”

“They’re not tempted to sell them either,” Chief of Police, B.J. Wilkinson said.

Younger kids tend to find prescription medications at home by rummaging through the family’s medicine cabinet, or at a friend’s home.

“Getting those out of those homes and properly disposed of and destroyed is only going to help keep our kids safer,” Hofrock said.

Chief Wilkinson witnessed the effects of kids having ‘pharm parties’ where he hails from in Illinois, but none in Sidney to date. Kids go to a family member’s medicine chest and grab a sample of everything they have and take it to the party. Everyone in attendance puts the various drugs on a table and they dare each other to take a hand full and see what happens.

Chief Wilkinson witnessed kids going into respiratory failure and having seizures due to these parties. They are especially dangerous because no one in attendance can tell a policeman or doctor what their friend had as so many various drugs were put into a pile.

“This program is designed to help avert some of those kinds of tragedies,” Chief Wilkinson said.

“We would recommend to parents if you do have kids in your home, make sure that all your medications are locked up, under lock and key,” Hofrock added.

“Ask for childproof tops on your scripts,” Chief Wilkinson said. “They should be locked up out of childrens’ reach, disposed of legally and properly when not fully consumed and should not be taken in any way, by any one, other than what the doctor prescribes.”

The drop off is completely anonymous. The police department just wants to dispose of medications safely.

“If they don’t want their names on the bottles, they can dump all of the meds into a plastic ziplock sandwich bag, and we’ll dispose of them that way,” Hofrock said. “We’ll take the bottles, but they’ll be in the box to be destroyed. We don’t log the names.”

One of the biggest problems with prescription medications the Sidney Police Department has seen is when older people pass away that lived alone, leaving their house full of pills. Because people do not know what to do with all the things left behind by their loved one, they dispose of medications in a variety of ways, none of which are usually safe or legal.

“We want to encourage any families that may have those instances where they’re not sure what to do with their loved one’s medications after they’ve passed away to feel free to bring those in,” Wilkinson said.

However, if the date and time set up for National Drug Take Back Day does not work, the Sidney Police Department maintains a drug take back box all year long.

The drug take back is not limited to pills. It includes disposing of prescription ointments, topical medications, morphine patches, medical supplies, oxygen tubes, gauze and anything else that people commonly believe is safe to throw away.


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