With 1,500 pounds collected so far, the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office may break its record in clearing expired prescription medication from the streets.
The Sheriff's Office is collecting expired or unwanted medication from citizens as part of the National Drug Take Back Initiative — an effort to keep prescription pills out of the hands of those who might abuse them.
Darr said law enforcement agencies are attempting to prevent a trend which has become common nationally — teenagers taking pills from their parents' cabinets. Some of the drugs can become more addictive than illegal substances such as meth or heroin, Darr said.
"Many of these kids believe that these drugs are safer to abuse than illegal drugs," Darr said. "That's just not the case."
For about four years, the Sheriff's Office has continued 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. In the spring, they introduced the Drug Drop Box — a white box where citizens can dispose of unwanted medication at any time.
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.
Sheriff John T. Darr announced in a press conference Wednesday that the agency had topped their spring collection of 686 pounds of prescription medication with an additional 888 pounds of vitamins, herbal supplements, antibiotics and other medicines.
The Sherriff's Office has also partnered with Columbus Water Works, aiming to prevent citizens from flushing medications, which can taint the water supply.
Medication that is disposed of through the program will be taken to the Drug Enforcement Agency to be incinerated. The bottles, some of which contain personal information when turned in, will also be burned.
Hopefully, Darr said, more drop boxes will be introduced around the city. And, as more people learn of the program, Darr hopes the number of drugs that are brought in for disposal will continue to grow.
"We want to make sure that these drop boxes are secure," Darr said.
In addition to disposing of medication at the Sheriff's Office, which is located on the fourth floor of the Government Center, residents can take medication to six local pharmacies — North Columbus Pharmacy, River Road Pharmacy, J&J Pharmacy, Dinglewood Pharmacy, All Care Pharmacy and My Care Pharmacy — who gather unwanted prescriptions throughout the year.