In an effort to keep prescription medications and other pills out of the wrong hands, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will now serve as a collection point to turn in unwanted medications, no questions asked.


In an effort to keep prescription medications and other pills out of the wrong hands, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will now serve as a collection point to turn in unwanted medications, no questions asked.

Working with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, a white drop box, similar to a mailbox, now sits in the lobby of the sheriff’s office, adjacent to the Lincoln County courthouse in Chandler.

The intention is to provide permanent drop-off locations to safely dispose of prescription drugs that may be expired, or no longer needed.
OBN is working with police departments and sheriff’s offices to establish locations for the drop boxes as part of the “Safe Trips for Scripts” program.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in Oklahoma,” said OBN spokesman Mark Woodward. “It’s unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house. 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.”

In some cases involving a loved one’s death, sometimes people aren’t sure what to do with a family member’s medications, said Sheriff Charlie Dougherty.

“They can come here and dispose of them property,” the sheriff said.

Melton Edminsten, chief agent with OBN, was in Chandler Monday to kick off the collection site there. He said there were 700 drug-related deaths recorded with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in 2010, with more than 80 percent of those tied to prescription-type drugs.

“One of the sources is medicine cabinets,” Edminsten said. Many times, people may search a relative’s cabinet, and in some cases, in-home repair or service workers may steal medications from unsuspecting customers, he said.

He said OBN has purchased 125 of the drop-off containers for the state “to provide a real service to citizens,” which, in turn, also helps law enforcement by keeping the pills away from those who shouldn’t have them. Edminsten said young people don’t understand the dangers of mixing medications, which can be lethal, especially if alcohol is added.

In addition to prescriptions, other types of pills, from expired cold medicine to pain relievers, can also be deposit in the drop box.
Edminsten said OBN is contracting with a Tulsa company, Covanta Energy, which burns the collected pills and tablets and converts them into energy. The last collection from the boxes netted more than 2,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals.

“That’s a lot of pills off the streets,” Edminsten said, adding the company makes energy and doesn’t charge OBN for the service.
Seizure funds from previous drug busts funded the drop boxes, which cost $500 each, he said.

Dougherty is excited about the program and encourages Lincoln County residents to drop off items whenever it is convenient for them as the sheriff’s office lobby is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The drug problem used to be meth – now its prescription pills,” the sheriff said.

The collection box does not accept any type of liquid medications, needles or glass items and no inhalers are allowed.

Dougherty said the drop box also is much safer than the old “flush” method as those medications do get back into water systems.
OBN has a list of the container locations on its website, www.ok.gov/obndd.