People with old and unused prescriptions now have a proper place to dispose of them, thanks to the Boise and Garden City Police Departments, as well as the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
The three departments announced the program today that will enable people to take their unwanted or unused medications to drop-box locations around the valley. The three departments crafted the initiative after a program that has proved successful in the city of Meridian, which began on October 1, 2009. Since the program began, Meridian city officials have reported collecting over three-hundred pounds of medications.
The program aims to cut down on water pollution and drug misuse and abuse among residents of the Treasure Valley.
One common disposal method has been to simply flush old medications down the toilet. While that disposes of the problem for the person doing the flushing, it leads to larger problems for the community. According to The Harvard Heart Letter, which is a publication of Harvard University, prescription drugs “Can kill helpful bacteria in septic systems and pass largely untouched through sewage treatment plants.” It is also reported that drugs which are disposed of in landfills can end up in groundwater after they biodegrade.
The program will also help Treasure Valley residents avoid using the wrong medications. The press release issued by the three departments states that according to National Institutes of Health, nearly 500,000 people across the nation visited the emergency room last year due to misuse of prescription medications.
City officials believe removing old medications from homes will reduce also drug abuse across the valley. Elisha Figeroa, the Community Services Coordinator for the Meridian Police Department, says that “prescriptions drugs are now the drugs of choice for 12-13 year olds.” The Office of National Drug Control Policy also reports that while marijuana use is still the most commonly abused drug in the country, prescription drugs aren't far behind.
With the new program, Boise, Garden City, and Ada County are doing their part to reduce the problem that causes problems for so many people. “Hopefully, with the help of these green bins, we can prevent some of that harm, and spare some family the agony that comes with drug abuse," said Boise Deputy Chief Jim Kerns.
It is important to note that prior to dropping medications in drop-boxes, drugs must be prepared correctly. All medications must be bagged and liquid containers must be in sealed bags to prevent spills. People are urged not to drop needles, sharp objects, or hazardous waste in the collection bins.
Once the drugs have been dropped off at one of the three drop-box locations, they will be removed at the end of each day and taken to a secure location. After the drugs are secured, they will be shipped to Utah to be incinerated.
Officials also want the public to know dropping medications is completely anonymous. Though the Meridian city drop program has not reported taking in any illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, officials know it could happen.
“There are no questions asked when the drugs are dropped off” said Figeroa. “We have no way to know who dropped it off.”
To find your nearest drop-box location, click here.