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     This Saturday, April 30, 2011 from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office will participate along with other agencies and organizations in the Arkansas Statewide Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative.  This event provides an opportunity for the public to dispose of expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical substances and medications in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.  There will be two sites in Mountain Home where people may bring their medications “FREE OF CHARGE” and with “No Questions Asked” to be disposed of. 

    One location will be at the Baxter County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division located at 206 West 8th Street in Mountain Home.  The second location will be at vacant car lot across from Arby’s Restaurant on Highway 62 East in Mountain Home.  Sheriff’s deputies will be on hand at both locations to assist with the collection of those medications, answer questions, and provide any other assistance needed.  People may go to either of these locations on April 30th, and there is also a secured permanent drop box  available at the Sheriff’s Office CID location on 8th Street for use anytime.  We do ask that sharps (such as syringes), medical waste (such as oxygen masks and intravenous tubing and connections) and IV solutions not be placed inside this drop box.

     By returning your unwanted or expired medications to these collection sites on April 30th, you help:

1.     Remove a potential source of prescription drugs from those who might otherwise try to steal, abuse, or sell them.

2.    Keep them from being taken from your own medicine cabinets by children, grandchildren, or their friends.

3.    Protect small children from accidentally ingesting prescription drugs.

4.    Prevent those drugs from polluting the environment by being flushed or placed in landfills.

     Information supplied by the U. S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration indicated that in 2008, there were 6.2 million Americans aged 12 years and older who had abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes within the past month – more than the number of people who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants combined.  Also in 2008, on average, almost 6,000 persons per day abused prescription pain relievers for the first time.  The total number of persons who used controlled substance pharmaceuticals for the first time exceeded the number of persons who abused marijuana for the first time.  More than half of all teenagers surveyed believed that prescription drugs are easier to obtain than illicit drugs, with many coming from the medicine cabinets of family and friends.

     Additional research has shown that Arkansas has the worst teen prescription pain reliever abuse problem in the entire United States.  Teenagers often believe that medicine is much safer to use than illegal drugs and that pain relievers are not addictive.  There are several recognized warning signs that people can look for if prescription drug abuse is suspected by a child, grandchild, or other family member.  These include:

1.     Fatigue, red or glazed eyes, and repeated health complaints.

2.    Sudden mood changes, irritability, negative attitude, personality changes, and lack of interest in hobbies or activities.

3.    Secretiveness and withdrawing from family.

4.    Decreased/obsessive interest in school work.

5.    Missing prescription medicines from your medicine cabinet.  Check frequently !

6.    Additional filled prescriptions on your pharmacy record that you did not fill.

     The Sheriff’s Office was able to purchase an incinerator device to destroy pharmaceuticals and other medicines in an environmentally safe manner with funding provided by Roller Funeral Home.  During two previous drug take back events held within months of one another in 2010, more than 160,000 pills were turned in by members of the public to be disposed of. 

      In the past, flushing medications and drugs seemed to be a safe and responsible method of disposal.  We now realize that the drugs do not completely disintegrate and are contaminating our waterways.  Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not generally designed to treat pharmaceutical waste.  The risk to the health of our waters is significant when we contribute to pollution by what we pour down our drains.  This ends up in our creeks, rivers, and lakes, and it places our drinking water supply at unnecessary risk.

     Support for this particular event is being provided by Magee Pharmacy of Mountain Home and by some students from the Arkansas State University – Mountain Home Campus.  Anyone having questions about the drug take back event may contact the Sheriff’s Office for additional information.

/s/ John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff