ROCHESTER, MN — According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) other than marijuana, prescription medicines are the most abused drugs in America and teenagers are some of the biggest abusers.
Almost three-fourths of them get the drugs from family and friends so those at the DEA are trying to spread the word on how to get rid of them properly.
Many Americans have used a prescription drug at some point and when they are done it is important for them to dispose of them properly, but it may not always be the easiest thing to do so some in Rochester are giving a helping hand.
“To get expired medications out of people’s homes, to prevent teenagers, people, other children that may have access to these medications,” said Karen Sikkink, one of the volunteers.
Sikkink has volunteered her time on drug take-back day for the last three years. As a Med Diversion Prevention Coordinator for the Mayo Clinic she knows it is important to keep the unused drugs out of the wrong hands.
“The community needs and elderly people need to be able to get rid of their medications and I believe that Mayo provides the service just as a convenience and safety issue for patients,” Sikkink said.
The Mayo Clinic teamed up with the Rochester Police Department and the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office to provide a convenient way to dispose of unwanted or old prescription drugs like vicodin.
“We want to get them out of the house. A big thing is the burglaries, people will break in just to steal prescription medication,” said Chief Deputy Mark Darnell of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, “So it’s better to get it out of your house. If you’re not using it, get rid of it.”
Darnell says these burglaries are not a big problem in Olmsted County and they want to keep it that way.
“Certainly we have had the cases and yes, this helps. Due to the participation that we’ve had over the years it’s obviously getting the medications out of the house,” Darnell said.
This is the fifth time Olmsted County has put on the event in the past few years. Darnell believes it is making a difference in the community
”It’s been going down each year that we do it, which is a good sign. The first year that we did it we had almost 3,000 pounds,” Darnell said.
As someone who is dedicated to keeping the streets clear of dangerous substances, Sikkink is hoping that trend continues.
“I hope people continue to understand how important it is to dispose of medications properly and we want to provide this so there is an outlet for them to take care of their medication,” Sikkink said.
Although the number of drugs going in to the trailer seems to get smaller every time, the process is still the same. Authorities will take it to the incinerator where they are exposed of properly.
At just over an hour and a half in they had just over 400 pounds of drugs turned in from roughly 200 cars.