Expired medication is best discarded of not in the trash, but at the Government Center.
The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office has adopted the Georgia Law Enforcement's Drug Drop Box Campaign in hopes of keeping expired or unwanted prescription drugs off the street and properly disposed of, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office. This program is part of an ongoing effort by the department to responsibly dispose of prescription medication.
The campaign, created by Georgia's Council on Drugs and Alcohol, has provided a white drop box to 128 counties in hopes of collecting expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Medications that can be disposed of include narcotics, unopened epinephrine pens, herbal medication, veterinary medication and medicated lotions and ointments among others.
Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Kasey Trombley said one of the department's major concerns is not just criminals selling stolen prescription drugs, but children using medications out of their parents' cabinets.
"The biggest problem is with teenagers," she said. "What they're doing is instead of going and purchasing drugs their going into mom and dad or grandma and grandpa's cabinet and making a cocktail."
Another concern is that flushed medication could affect the environment and local water supplies.
"We also do two pick-ups a year with the Columbus Water Works," she said. "When you flush the medication, it gets into the water supply and they have to test for those chemicals. When the chemicals are above a certain level, they have to retreat the water, which cost the tax payers money.
Trombley said Columbus' drop box will be permanent, and is located on the Fourth Floor of the Government Center. It can be accessed between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Medication drop offs will still be accepted at the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office is also continuing a partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to collect expired medicine for proper disposal as part of the National Drug Take Back Initiative. Six local pharmacies — North Columbus Pharmacy, River Road Pharmacy, J&J Pharmacy, Dinglewood Pharmacy, All Care Pharmacy and My Care Pharmacy — are gathering unwanted prescriptions this week.
Trombley said the program has been ongoing for several years. During 2012, about 900 pounds of medication was gathered and turned into the DEA for disposal. Since August, about 581 pounds have been gathered for disposal.
Those considering dropping off medications shouldn't worry about their personal information or the legality of their ownership of the drug, Trombley said.
"Everything we get is sent to the DEA to be incinerated," she said. "You don't have to worry if it's not your medication being turned in. It's completely no questions asked. And you don't have to worry about any information on the stickers on the bottles. Those bottles are going to be incinerated too."