Unwanted meds? ‘Take it to the Box’Washington County residents have a place to ditch old and expired medicines after the launch of a new county program this week.
By: Jon Avise, Woodbury Bulletin
Washington County residents have a place to ditch old and expired medicines after the launch of a new county program this week.
“Take it to the Box,” Washington County’s new pharmaceutical drug take-back program, installed a permanent place for people to deposit both prescription and over-the-counter medicines they no longer need. It’s an effort, the county’s sheriff and top public health official said recently, to cut down on the growing problems of prescription drug overdose and abuse.
Residents can dispose of unwanted medications in a secure drop box located in the lobby of the Washington County Law Enforcement Center in Stillwater. The program began accepting medications Monday.
"Prescription drugs have become one of the most abused controlled substances by adults and teens in our community," Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton told County Board members last week. He said the sheriff’s office has continued to see an increase in reports of prescription drug overdoses. Their abuse, Hutton said, is considered gateway to heroin use, which is also on the rise.
“It’s a real problem,” he added.
At a recent drug take-back event held by the county, officials collected 339 pounds of prescription medication, Hutton said. Of that, 39 pounds was considered a controlled substance.
A pharmaceutical drug drop-site is one of the most frequent requests county public health officials hear from residents, said Lowell Johnson, director of the department of public health and the environment. He said the issue of unwanted drugs is an environmental one, too, considering how many people have commonly disposed of old medicines.
"People used to think you could flush it away,” Johnson told commissioners. “There is no away. It goes somewhere ... and we need to be careful about that."
The Stillwater drop site will be available from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drugs collected will be shipped to and destroyed at a waste-to-energy incinerator elsewhere in the metro area.
Johnson said last week the county plans an eventual expansion of the program to county service centers in Cottage Grove and Forest Lake.