By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Clearing out unused and expired medicine is more than spring cleaning. It can protect the people you love and the environment.
“This is a safety issue,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, whose department is one of 16 regional agencies participating in the National Prescription Take Back event organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Most agencies will collect unused pills and liquid medicines 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Mississippi State University campus police will collect Thursday. The Lee County Sheriff’s Department and Oxford Police will collect Friday. Most, if not all of the collected medicines, will be destroyed in the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics incinerator.
Prescription drug abuse is becoming an epidemic.
“Alcohol has always been No. 1,” in terms of substance abuse, said Doty Vail, executive director of the North Mississippi chapter of the National Council on Alcohol Drug Dependency. “Of the assessments that I’ve done in the last three years, prescription pain killers have overtaken that.”
Prescription pain medicines and anti-anxiety drugs are the most commonly abused. It’s a problem with serious consequences.
“Ninety-five percent of the overdose deaths in this state are from prescription drugs,” said Marshall Fisher, director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Johnson said his department has seen an increasing number of burglaries that target medicine cabinets.
Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation encouraging local narcotics task forces to have regular prescription drug collection events. The collected drugs would be destroyed by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
The old standby to get rid of medication was to flush medications down the toilet, but that creates another problem.
“Waste water systems are not equipped to remove most pharmaceutical residue,” said Mark Williams, solid waste policy administrator for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. “We see the environmental benefit to separate collection.”
Drug Collection Locations
NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI law enforcement is participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative this week. The public can bring unused or expired pills or liquid medicine to be destroyed to the following locations. No IV medicines or sharps will be accepted.
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mississippi State campus police will collect at Drill Field, Starkville
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Lee County Sheriff’s Office, 510 N. Commerce St., Tupelo
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oxford Police Department, 715 Molly Barr Road, Oxford
Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In Lee County
• Guntown Police Department, 1589 Main St., Guntown
• Saltillo Police Department 142 Front St., Saltillo
• Shannon Police Department, 122 Broad St., Shannon
• Tupelo Police Department, 220 N. Front St., Tupelo
Around Northeast Mississippi
• Alcorn County Sheriff’s Office, Justice Center, South Harper Road, Corinth
• Clay County Sheriff’s Department, 330 W. Broad St., West Point
• Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department will collect in Walmart parking lot, Highway 25 South, Fulton
• Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, 700 S. Meridian St., Aberdeen
• Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department will collect in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, Highway 12, Starkville
• Tishomingo County Sheriff’s Office, 1208 Bettydale Drive, Iuka
• Union County Sheriff’s Department, 300 Carter Ave., New Albany
For more information visit dea.gov or call (800) 882-9539.