In efforts to prevent drug-related deaths from prescription drugs, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has placed a Drug Take-Back box at the Tecumseh Police Department.
The box, which looks similar to a mailbox, is white and is clearly marked as the depository for prescriptions medications that are no longer needed.
Over the past two years, OBN has placed 125 such boxes in law enforcement lobbies across the state, with agents collecting more than 26,000 pounds of pills and medications from those boxes so far.
During Thursday's event, Tecumseh Police Chief Gary Crosby and OBN Director R. Darrell Weaver spoke about the program and its benefit to a community. The box in Tecumseh is intended to serve that area as well as all of south Pottawatomie County.
This program, known as "Safe Trip for Scripts" helps keep old, unwanted medications from ending up on the streets or in schools. OBN agents report that Oklahoma is first in the nation in painkiller prescription abuse and ninth in the nation in painkiller deaths, with many of these drug-related deaths resulting from drugs found in home medicine cabinets.
"Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in Oklahoma. It's unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house," said OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward. "Old, expired medications left in the home can be targeted by users. Teenagers also target their parent's current or expired prescription drugs to abuse, trade or sell in order to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs."
Weaver said the disposal containers are vital for preventing the potential disasters caused by keeping unnecessary mediations in the home. Weaver said the take-back boxes are located in the secure lobby-areas of police departments and an agent is assigned collect and weigh the items before they are turned over for incineration.
Once deposited, the pills are collected and taken to Covanta Energy in Tulsa, which burns the pills and converts them into green energy at no cost to the OBN or Oklahoma taxpayers, Weaver said.
The box in Tecumseh is located just inside the lobby area of the Tecumseh Police Department, which is open to the public 24 hours each day.
"The long term success of this program is going to be how much we can get the public to use it," Weaver said, adding that someday the bottles collected could save someone's child.
Crosby thanked Weaver and OBN for providing the box for the community.
"I'm tickled pink we've got this here," Crosby said.
Tecumseh city council members Gene Crnkovic and Bob Stewart were among those attending the event for unveiling of the box, along with several staff members from Gateway to Prevention and Recovery.
Jennifer Baker of Eric's Pharmacy, who also works with Gateway, said pharmacies can't take back customer's prescription medications, so having these boxes are a way to help the community dispose of medications, no matter what the circumstance.
Page 2 of 2 - A Take-Back box is also located at the Shawnee Police Department. That box is located in the basement of city hall near the records window. A box is also located at the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Chandler.