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

Local agencies taking back unwanted prescription drugs


The Sidney Police Department, in cooperation with he Panhandle Prevention Coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice–Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Office of Diversion Control, will hold another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 26.

This marks the 10th opportunity in five years for the public to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Residents can bring pills for disposal to the police department from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. Locations will not collect illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamines; also intravenous solutions and medical waste are not included.

The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

The DEA provides the medication collection bins, transports the bins to a DEA approved incinerator, and properly incinerates the medications. Local law enforcement provides the site and volunteers to manage the drop off site. This no-cost collaboration is especially helpful to substance abuse prevention organizations that work on very limited budgets and are looking for sustainable strategies.

In the Nebraska Panhandle, prescription drug use appears to be lower among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students over the past nine years, according to the Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Student Survey. These types of prevention efforts can help these numbers continue to decrease.

The last prescription drug take back initiative in September 2014 included sites in Sidney, Alliance and Rushville collecting more than 9,000 pounds of unused, unwanted and expired medications in Nebraska.

“Rates of prescription drug abuse, accidental poisonings, and overdoses due to prescription drugs are high in the U.S.,” said Amy Borcher, the pharmacy manager at Box Butte General Hospital. “Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medication cabinets. The drug take back day gives members of the community a safe way to dispose of their unused medications in a way that will not harm the environment”

Unused and expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse, she said. Pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision. The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America. The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from family and friends-and the home medicine cabinet.

When thrown in the trash, unused and expired prescriptions can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. Unused drugs that are flushed contaminate the water supply.

Last September, Americans turned in 309 tons – more than 617,000 pounds – of prescription drugs at nearly 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its eight previous “Take Back” events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 4.8 million pounds – more than 2,400 tons – of pills.

The Panhandle Prevention Coalition is a part of the Panhandle Partnership for Health and Human Services and is comprised of local community coalitions and a regional coalition united together by a passion and dedication to healthy and safe people across the lifespan.


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