Carolyn Sims of White Hall spent a month in the hospital last October. She’s recovered now, but she was left with five bottles of prescription drugs that she didn’t use up.
“They’ve just been sitting in my bedroom in a drawer,” Sims said. “I had them high up in a dresser so that my young grandchildren couldn’t get to them, but the more I thought, the more dangerous it seemed to keep them in the house. I knew you weren’t supposed to just throw them away, so I decided to bring them in for disposal.”
Saturday, April 28, was National Drug Take Back Day, and law enforcement agencies across the country teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency to collect unwanted prescription drugs so they could not find their way to the streets.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Tri-County Drug Task Force and the DEA set up a collection point on the parking lot of Super 1 Foods at the corner of West 28th Avenue and Hazel Street, collecting a record 234 pounds of drugs from people like Sims, according to Sheriff’s Lt. and Drug Task Force Commander Yohance Brunson.
“This is the biggest one we’ve had yet,” Brunson said as a steady stream of vehicles stopped and handed over garbage bags, large plastic bags and containers with controlled substances like Hydrocodone and over-the-counter pain and cold medications.
“A lot of elderly people don’t know that this is a safe way to dispose of drugs instead of flushing them down the toilet,” Brunson said, adding that the drug take back events are held twice each year, once in the spring and again in October. Officials advise against flushing drugs because they can potentially create an environmental hazard.
Sheriff’s Investigator Fred Green said participating law enforcement agencies will all meet on May 8 to turn the drugs they collect in, and the following day, the National Guard will take possession of the drugs, which will be burned in an incinerator.
Green and Sheriff’s Investigator Rick Conyers are both currently assigned to DEA task forces.
Brunson said a permanent drug collection box has been placed in the new sheriff’s office building adjacent to the adult detention center at the corner of Second Avenue and Convention Center Drive; it can be accessed 24 hours a day. The sheriff’s office acquired that box and two others several years ago and plans are underway to place those other two collections boxes so they can be accessible to the community.
“We will even take illegal drugs if people want to turn them in, no questions asked,” Brunson said.
Members of the Community Empowerment Council, a non-profit agency, teamed up with the task force to help collect the drugs.