Jefferson County did its part Saturday in helping the Drug Enforcement Administration reach their goal of collecting 10 million pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications during the National Drug Take Back Day.
Lt. Yohance Brunson of the Tri-County Drug Task Force said agents collected 304.2 pounds of drugs that were dropped off at a collection center located at Super One Foods on Hazel Street.
Anyone who missed the take back event can always drop off unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications at the White Hall Police Department at 8204 Dollarway Road. There are also drop off locations in Pine Bluff. For details, visit artakeback.org.
Over the past eight years, the DEA has conducted 15 previous drug take back events and collected 9.9 million pounds or nearly five tons of prescription medications.
“I’ve been working this for the last six years and I think we are seeing better results than ever before,” said Task Force Investigator Fred Green, who is assigned to DEA task force that works throughout the area.
“This helps the community and keeps opioids off the street and out of the wrong hands.”
Stephen G. Azzam, the special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Division of the DEA, which covers Arkansas, said in a press release that “In the midst of this worst-ever opioid epidemic, where we’re losing over 166 people a day, it’s absolutely critical that we get unused prescription drugs out of homes and dispose of them safely at these drug take back events. Unfortunately, these drugs are most often obtained from friends and family, who leave them in home medicine cabinets. This event provides citizens an easy and safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.”
Brunson said that a permanent drug drop box is now located in the new Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office building adjacent to the adult detention center, and inside Doctor’s Orders Pharmacy on West 28th Avenue.
“Eventually we hope to have other drop-off sites available for people to dispose of their unwanted medications,” he said.
In addition to task force agents, Brooke Williams and Joseph Perdue, who are probation and parole officers with the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, were joined by Gail Massey and Jeanette Lightfoot, both of whom are from White Hall and are a part of the Retired Senior Volunteer program.
The DEA news release said that the prescription drug take back program was launched because the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised that the public flushing their prescription drugs down the toilet or throwing them in the trash posed potential health hazards.
During the last take back event, held in April, Arkansas law enforcement agencies collected 27,809 pounds of drugs. Other states in the DEA’s New Orleans region that collected drugs were Louisiana with 4,800 pounds, Alabama with 6,074 pounds and Mississippi with $,455 pounds.