Take back photo

Local agencies are partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for the 20th annual Drug Take Back Day 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24.

The event is designed to prevent pill abuse and environmental contamination by allowing people to get rid of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Prescription drug abuse and disposal are both a public and environmental health threat, according to the Pollution Prevention Institute.Improper disposal of medications via sewers or landfills can lead to surface water contamination, and when unwanted drugs are not disposed of properly, it can lead to abuse of those substances.

Returning unused or unwanted medications to a pharmacy or bringing them to a law enforcement agency are reliable methods for keeping these substances from entering the water supply and reducing the risk of abuse.

Leena Divakar is a part of Kansas State University’s Pollution Prevention Institute. She, along with other members of the team, helps with outreach and education about disposal of these kinds of drugs to various communities in Kansas and Missouri.

“We are reaching out to county officials and basically doing promotion for the event on April 24th,” Divakar said. “And we’re just spreading awareness on how to dispose of these opioids, the sharps and stuff like that and how bad it is for the environment.”

Divakar also said this event comes at a time when drug overdose by opioids was on the rise, so education is an important factor in the USDA funded project. Agencies participating in the take back day are focusing on rural access to safe drug and sharps disposal.

The best way to dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines, the Pollution Prevention Institute said, is to drop substances and tools off at a take-back site.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occured in the U.S. between May 2019 and May 2020. This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.

The Pollution Prevention Institute said that while overdose deaths were already increasing in the months leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths throughout the pandemic.

Nodaway County residents are encouraged to bring unwanted drugs to these area locations for disposal: Brother’s Market at 402 E. Price Ave, Savannah, MO 64485 and Maryville Department of Public Safety at 101 N, Vine St, Maryville, MO 64468. 

Sites can only accept pills or patches, and cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked. Collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.

For more information about safe disposal as a way to prevent drug abuse and protect the environment, people can visit the institute’s website at www.sbeap.org/safe-disposal or call  800-578-8898.

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