Pills and other medications placed in the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ Drug Take-Back Box at the Shawnee Police Department were picked up by drug agents Thursday, with the amount of drugs retrieved filling up about one-half of a trash bag.
In efforts to prevent drug-related deaths from prescription drugs that could fall into the wrong hands, OBN has placed 125 Drug Take-Back boxes at police departments around the state.
The boxes, which look similar to a mailbox, are white and are clearly marked as the depository for prescriptions medications that are no longer needed.
Over the past two years, OBN has collected more than 26,000 pounds of pills and medication through the program, known as “Safe Trip for Scripts.”
The goals is 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.
Thursday, an OBN agent stopped in Shawnee to pick up recently deposited items. During the pick up, police officials as well as those from Shawnee’s Gateway to Prevention and Recovery were on hand.
Lisa Watson from Gateway said more and more people are becoming aware of the Take-Back boxes, which are a safe way to properly dispose of medications that are no longer needed or are out-of-date. While any medication can be placed in the containers, officials especially hope to keep pain medications out of the wrong hands.
“A lot of people don’t realize that Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation for opiate overdose deaths,” Watson said, with Pottawatomie County ranking No. 4 among deaths in the state.
Watson and others try to educate the public on safe storage of needed medications along with proper disposal of those that are no longer needed.
“People aren’t aware that children or other adults are taking them from medicine cabinets,” Watson said.
Officials also are trying to keep them from ending up at “Farm parties,” Watson said.
At these events, teenagers are often gathering up medications from many sources and then combine them by throwing them all in a bowl to be taken during the party.
“They don’t care what they are — they take handfuls,” she said, which can be dangerous.
Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz said this program has many benefits.
“This is a great program for people to get rid of old drugs and medications that are no longer needed,” Frantz said, adding this is a safe and clean way of disposing of medications.
Page 2 of 2 - “The medication is taken to an incinerator that effectively disposes the drugs and the energy is turned into steam/electricity (green energy),” the chief said. “Disposing of drugs this way keeps them from going into our water systems or from being diverted to illegal uses.”
It also keeps people, including children from overdosing or abusing medications, he added.
In addition to these Take-Back boxes available every day, Gateway also sponsors a Take-Back event each year at Shawnee Mall.
The next drug Take-Back event for safe disposal will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, Watson said.
Take-Back boxes also are located in the basement of city hall at the Shawnee Police Department and at the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Chandler.