Nearly 300 pounds of unused or outdated medication were dropped off by Barton County residents during the Drug Take Back event held outside the Barton County Courthouse last Saturday.
In conjunction with the Barton County Health Department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office facilitated the annual event.
“This was a big day for collections,” said County Health Director Karen Winkelman. “We gathered 290 pounds of either unused or outdated medication, which means these drugs will no longer pose any kind of health or safety threat for citizens of Barton County.”
The event is part of a state-wide effort by Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office to gather unused medications. The collections events are also part of a nationwide effort to safely dispose of leftover meds.
“Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment,” Schmidt said. “Diversion of opioid painkillers, in particular, can contribute to the misuse of these drugs that has become a serious nationwide problem. Getting leftover medicines out of the medicine cabinets and safely destroyed keeps them from falling into the wrong hands and makes our communities safer.”
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study showed a majority of those drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
The National Drug Take-Back Day is coordinated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which collects and safely destroys the medications. The DEA permits local law enforcement to accept prescription and nonprescription medications for destruction once a year, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. “This offers Barton County citizens a convenient, safe and environmentally responsible option for disposing of unwanted medications,” said Bellendir.
Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates opioid overdoses kill 130 Americans every day.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, pharmaceutical opioids are a leading cause of drug poisoning deaths in Kansas. In addition, Americans are now advised that traditional methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose potential safety and health hazards and should be avoided.
Unused prescriptions can be turned in year-round at many local law enforcement locations. Kansans should contact their local sheriff’s office or police department for more information.