While initially intended as a convenience for residents looking to relieve themselves of unused or expired drugs and medications, the twice-yearly Drug Take Back Days are proving to be a valuable resource for Prosper residents.
National Drug Take Back Day was begun several years ago by the Drug Enforcement Administration in response to the alarming number of drug-related crimes resulting from the abuse of prescribed drugs and medications. Many of the pain relief drugs prescribed for patients who undergo surgical procedures wound up in the hands of abusers or drug peddlers. Some of these are addictive and extremely dangerous when used incorrectly.
Like many communities, Prosper agreed to participate in the DEA program, with the Police and Fire Departments agreeing to co-sponsor the two events, one in the spring and one in the fall. This year’s autumn version event took place on Oct. 28 at the Central Fire Station, where it has been held for the last several years.
Promoted as a free service where no questions are asked, the just-concluded event proved to be among the most successful, says Firefighter/Paramedic Marty Nevil, who coordinates the two events with Police Officer Erin Hubbard.
“We collected 11 boxes of expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, weighing 231 lb.,” said Nevil. “We continually increase the collection amount with each event.” Members of the Central Fire Department’s B-Shift assisted with the collection.
A steady stream of residents visited the lobby with all manner of drugs, from the 10 a.m. open to the 2 p.m. close. Most who dropped by shared their appreciation for the opportunity to dispose of their medications safely and reliably. While the majority of the drop-offs were by Prosper residents, a good number of individuals who participated admitted to being from surrounding cities and towns.
“We had three people say they cleaned out a deceased person’s pantry,” said Nevil. “Another said he operated a rehabilitation clinic and brought in the drugs they collected from the patients.”
The program accepts all medications, except those which are illegal to possess, and while medical devices are not accepted, unused or expired syringes are taken. An individual inquired about disposal of thermometers with mercury, and while not accepted at the site, the person was told of a drop off site at Best Buy which would take it.
“We’re pleased to offer this service, especially because without it, the alternative might be to flush these medications down the toilet or send them to the landfill. Both of these can harm our drinking water and environment,” she said. “This is a much better alternative.”