The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 1, 2013

Drug disposal program marks 2-year milestone

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs reached a milestone Friday in its fight against prescription drug abuse across the state.

Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the nation’s first statewide and year-round drug disposal program.

In March 2011, OBN began installing permanent take-back boxes in law enforcement lobbies for the public to safely dispose of unused or unneeded home medications.

Two of the boxes have been installed in Enid, and a total of 126 boxes have been installed statewide. Nearly 30,000 pounds of drugs have been collected for destruction.

One of the boxes is located in Enid Police Department lobby, the other at Garfield County Sheriff’s Office in the courthouse.

OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward said properly disposing of expired medication is critical.

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in Oklahoma. It’s unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house,” Woodward said. “Old, expired medications left in the home can be targeted by users. Teenagers also target their parents’ current or expired prescription drugs to abuse, trade or sell in order to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.”

OBN has partnered with police departments and sheriff’s departments in all 77 counties to establish permanent locations for the boxes. Woodward said the boxes allow the public to dispose of old medication year-round, rather than wait for an official drug take-back day in their community.

“Take-back days have been very successful, but we don’t want people stock-piling expired medication in their home for weeks or months until a take-back program is held in their community,” Woodward said.

OBN Director Darrell Weaver said the drug drop boxes are vital for preventing deaths resulting from unwanted drugs being taken from the home and abused by an addict, sold on the streets or traded by school students.

“I am very proud of the prescription take-back program, which is the national model for addressing this issue across the country,” Weaver said. “There is no way of knowing how many lives have been saved by getting these drugs out of home medicine cabinets around our state. But I know this, if we save one life, it will be worth it.”

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said the drop box in the lobby of his office sees quite a bit of use.

“It is packed every month,” Niles said.

He encouraged those with extra or unneeded medications to dispose of them sooner rather than later. He also said to dispose of them properly and to not flush them down the toilet, for environmental reasons.

Enid Police Department’s Capt. Jack Morris said the drop box at the department sees some of the highest use statewide.

“Ours certainly does get utilized,” he said. “It gets used quite frequently.”

OBN has a partnership agreement with Tulsa’s Covanta Energy to safely destroy the drugs collected from the disposal boxes at no cost to OBN, or the state of Oklahoma. The waste material is converted into clean energy. This partnership earned the Henry Bellmon Award for Excellence in 2012.

To view a list of drop box locations, go to www.ok.gov/obndd.

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