DROP DRUGS: Troy PD houses drop-off for medications

Published 10:59 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Troy Police Department and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is encouraging residents to not just say “no” to drugs, but to say “goodbye.”

After hosting “drug take-back days” in the past, the extension system and the Troy PD have partnered to offer the service at all times.

“There’s been a national drug take-back day set aside once or twice a year for people to come in and drop off prescription drugs,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “It’s an excellent program, but it is only one or two times a year that’s available. This new drop box is located in the police department lobby for 24-hour access, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

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The Alabama extension system has begun placing the drop boxes in an effort to help keep drugs out of homes as well as out of the state’s waterways.

“The benefits are two-fold; it’s the human health impact of it as well as the environmental impact as far as pharmaceuticals getting into the water source, which can hurt amphibians and aquatic life,” said Phillip Carter of the extension system. “Of course, the major issue is keeping these drugs from sitting at home in medicine cabinets where children, other family members or friends can potentially coming and taking them.”

Barr said prescription medications must be handled responsibly.

“It really boils down to responsibility; just like with alcohol and firearms, you have to be responsible about how you handle those things,” Barr said. “You don’t want them to fall into the wrong hands. Children might unknowingly take that medication out of curiosity and cause serious medical problems, if not death. You also want to keep them away from kids or family members that may be experimenting with drugs. Those medications are prescribed for one individual and should only be taken as prescribed by the doctor.”

Of course, people still taking their prescriptions don’t need to get rid of their medications, but Carter encouraged them to be kept locked and safe where only the intended user can access them.

Barr said abuse of prescription medications is a common and growing issue.

“We see people taking drugs that are not prescribed to them on a regular basis,” Barr said. “Most people know somebody who has faced an addiction. Many of us know someone that has lost his or her life to some type of overdose. Opioids are becoming an ever-increasing problem in this country and we’re not immune to that.”

Each day 140 people in the U.S. die of a drug overdose; 91 of those deaths are attributed to opioids alone.

“Between 2011 and 2015, opioid deaths tripled,” Barr said. “By 2014, Americans became more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident.”

The drop box exists to get rid of those medications whenever they are no longer needed, cutting down access to people who would use them without a prescription.

“Hopefully they won’t have these drugs to sell on the street or take them into schools and sell them to other students,” Carter said. “They’re showing up even in elementary. Kids get addicted at such an early age and then get turned on to even worse drugs. Think of how many people are just on prescription pain medicine, or people on Adderall for ADD … It’s an epidemic.

“It’s all about prevention. Don’t deal with the problem later. You don’t want to make it accessible to them.”

The drop-off box is located in the lobby of the police department. To access the box after business hours, residents may speak to dispatchers inside the first set of doors to be allowed into the lobby. Residents can also call the non-emergency line at 566-0500 from their own phones when they arrive.

“It’s a win-win for our community and our police department,” Barr said. “It gives the person depositing them peace of mind that they will be destroyed properly and won’t get into the hands of someone that shouldn’t have them.”