The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that community members and pharmacies have collected an additional 1,000 pounds of expired prescription pills since the Sheriff's Office sent more than 900 pounds to the Drug Enforcement Agency for disintegration in May.
For five years, the Sheriff's Office has collected unwanted medicine through the DEA's National Drug Take Back Initiative, which aims to lower prescription pill abuse. Several area pharmacies also help collect the unwanted medication, including Main Street Village's North Columbus Pharmacy, Wynnton Road's Dinglewood Pharmacy, 17th Street's All Care Pharmacy and 19th Street's My Care Pharmacy.
The Sheriff's Office also partnered with Columbus Water Works and the Muscogee County Marshal Office during the collection process, officials said.
"The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office's Take Back program is really designed to prevent the diversion, misuse or abuse of medications," Sheriff John T. Darr said. "Every day an average of 2,000 teenagers use prescription drugs without the guidance of doctors for the first time."
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According to the National Center on Addiction on Substance Abuse, a 2008 study showed 19 percent of respondents found prescription drugs easier to obtain than beer. Among those respondents who know prescription drug abusers, 34 percent said the abused pills came from a guardian or relative's medicine cabinet.
When citizens flush or otherwise improperly dispose of medicine, it can also enter the water supply and cause environmental harm. The Center for Disease Control has reported, however, that no studies have confirmed a link between flushed prescription pills and health problems.
Darr said the Sheriff's Office collected 1,574 pounds in 2013. He expects the department to far outstrip 2,000 pounds by the end of 2014.
Those interested in disposing of unwanted medicine can bring vitamins, herbal supplements, prescriptions and all other remedies to the Sheriff's Office's "Big White Box" in the Columbus Consolidated Government Center or to any participating pharmacies. Needles, opened or unopened, should not be deposited.