Each year, millions of Americans abuse prescription drugs, and many of the medications are obtained from family or friends and likely found in home medicine cabinets.
In an effort to prevent these drugs from getting into the wrong hands, the drug enforcement administration is holding thousands of “drug take back” events around the nation Saturday.
One of those drop-off spots was at the Mayo Clinic where folks could literally drive by and drop off their unwanted medications.
“It’s just not safe to keep them around and you don’t want people to get a hold of them or overdose or take something that they shouldn’t be taking,” says Mayo Clinic Pharmacist, Denise Nesbitt.
Getting thousands of pounds of unwanted medication out of medicine cabinets; that’s the goal of the National Drug Take Back event.
At collection sites across the country, including Mayo Clinic, folks can drop off their unused, unwanted or expired prescriptions.
“Volunteers from the pharmacy that have got bags and they’re collecting medication from the cars and the people changing their empty bags for full bags and we’re boxing them up and weighting them and loading them up,” adds Nesbitt.
Anything from vitamins, inhalers, pet medications, and over-the-counter items are being taken free or charge and free of hassle.
“There’s no identification process or anything,” explains Lt. Tom Kaase.
The Rochester Police and County Sheriff’s Office are “hosting” this event. They, along with DEA officials are making sure all the drugs that are turned over are properly disposed of.
“They’re turned in, they’re accounted for and then that they’re destroyed so there’s no question as to what happened to them or where they went,” says Lt. Kaase.
The medications will be shipped off to a secure facility and disposed using high temperature incineration.
The FDA says it’s the most environmentally friendly way and it ensures all the chemicals are destroyed.
Law enforcement we talked to say simply throwing old medicine away or flushing it down a toilet is not a good option.
“If you’re in the town it goes in the city water system, if you live out in the country it’s going into your own septic system and the ground water that you’re drawing from.”
Not only that, but actually turning in your old drugs helps keep them out of the wrong hands.
“If you take a look at the safety aspect, when these different drugs are in the household, where you have young children where if they would get into them the tragic things that could happen there,” adds Kaase.
Last year the mayo drug take back event took in just over 2,000 pounds of drugs.
In the first hour this morning and they had already collected 1,700 pounds.
If you missed the event today and still have medication you’d like to safely get rid of, most law enforcement agencies have a 24-hour drop box available. Olmsted Counties is located in the Adult Detention Center.