Warren County to participate in drug disposal

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Warren County Sheriff’s Department wants your old drugs.

Sheriff Martin Pace told the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club Tuesday that the department will participate Sept. 25 in the first-ever national campaign by the Drug Enforcement Administration to collect unwanted, unused and expired prescriptions, all in an effort to prevent increased pill abuse and theft.

Prescriptions may be dropped off at the sheriff’s office on Grove Street or at the Outlets at Vicksburg from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on that Saturday.

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“This is an opportunity to get much of this medication off the street,” Pace said. “We’re asking everyone who has prescription medication, specifically controlled substances such as pain killers and anti-anxiety medicine, to bring it up. This Take-Back initiative is a way to properly destroy it.”

DEA agents and deputies will document the collection for control purposes, but will not ask for personal information.

“We’re not going to ask you who you are or where you got it,” Pace added.

Pace said pills should not be thrown in the garbage. “I’m not opposed to flushing it down the toilet, but it’s not safe for the environment,” he said

Pace discussed the narcotic prescription hydrocodone, a synthetic opium akin to heroin.

“The illegal use and abuse of hydrocodone has increased in this country nearly 500 percent” in 10 years, he said. “It is right behind cocaine and crystal meth, and in this community, I say it has surpassed it. There are hundreds and hundreds of people in this community addicted to pain pills that would surprise you.”

He offered no local statistics, but said the DEA estimated nationwide, in 1994, about 7 million dosage units of hydrocodone were diverted to improper use. That statistic rose to 11 million in 1997, 56 million in 1998 and 89 million in 2000. In 2000, the number of emergency room visits related to improper dosage of hydrocodone was 19,000.

However, in Warren County, alcohol abuse and driving while intoxicated are the No. 1 cause of deaths, and marijuana is still a mainstay, Pace said.

The department has seen a reduction in the shake-and-bake method of making crystal methamphetamine due to a new state law that requires a prescription for pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient.

Pace said the DEA might establish a quarterly routine drop-off, but plans have not been confirmed.