Prescription drug drop-off a success

TUPELO – Authorities collected thousands of dosages of unused prescription drugs Saturday as part of the American Medicine Chest Challenge.
The American Medicine Chest Challenge, a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, was held in thousands of communities in 36 states across the country on Saturday.
Sheriff’s and police departments in Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Chickasaw counties set up drop-off points where people who wanted to properly dispose of their old medication could do so without having to worry about them getting into the wrong hands.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson has been a proponent of proper disposal of prescription drugs and said he is considering starting a permanent drop-off location.
“This is a preventive measure we are taking,” said Johnson. “This is a way for us to keep these drugs from getting on the streets. I’m glad to see the community turn out in such good numbers to turn some of this stuff in. We don’t want things like this to fall into the wrong hands, especially those of children.”
Lee County D.A.R.E. Officer Michelle Wells said children are more likely to use prescription drugs because they can simply get them from medicine cabinets at home.
Dorothy Merritt’s motivation for taking her unused medication to the drop-off was to keep them away from children and to deter potential burglars.
“I’ve had all these things in the house and had no idea what to do with them,” said Merritt. “And people know that older people have medication in their homes and will break in to try to get them. I just didn’t want them around, but on the other hand, I just didn’t want to throw them in the trash, so this drop-off was a good thing.”
Like Merritt, James Collins had no idea what to do with his old medication and for years was flushing pills down the toilet.
“I thought flushing them was the best way to keep them from my grandchildren and other people,” said Collins. “I have teenage grandchildren and the thought of drug abuse scares me to death. But now I’m glad I know of a better way to get rid of them.”
Monroe County Sheriff Andy Hood said his department collected several dosages of medication as well.
“We are glad to get this stuff out of the reach of the public,” said Hood. “The more we get to now the less we’ll have to deal with it in the community.”
In Pontotoc, Sheriff Neal Davis said the number of people dropping off drugs wasn’t overwhelming, but any amount that is not getting into the hands of criminals is good.
Johnson said the Lee County Sheriff’s Department collected nine garbage bags full of unwanted medication from about 30 people.
“I am very pleased with what was collected,” said Johnson. “That’s nine bags worth of harmful drugs that a child won’t get a hold of, or anyone else for that matter. So we have to consider this a good and worthwhile event.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

DANZA JOHNSON / NEMS Daily Journal