By Kristen Miller
MEEKER COUNTY, MN With prescription drug abuse on the rise, Meeker County is taking steps to eliminate access as well as provide proper disposal of potentially harmful medications.
The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, along with Meeker County Public Health and Litchfield Area Rural Partners in Prevention, have teamed up to provide a medication drop box located inside the law enforcement center.
The drug take-back program, called “Take It to the Box,” was in response to results from the Minnesota Student Survey, along with information provided by local drug treatment facilities, that pointed toward a spike in prescription drug use, explained Daren Scheppmann, public health educator.
With grant money available, the drop box was installed for residents to bring their unused prescription medications anytime, day or night. Pills can be left in the original container.
The goal of this medication drop site is to get prescription drugs out of the medicine cabinets, where they are easily attainable, so that they are abused less often, Scheppmann explained.
The drop box was unveiled April 2 and in a week-and-a-half, the sheriff’s department collected just under 10 pounds of prescription drugs, according to Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin.
Similar programs have been operating nationwide for some time now, Norlin said, but the local program was held off a bit to coincide with the changes and updates to security in the law enforcement center.
Proper storage was also necessary since the law enforcement center will be collecting and storing the medications until they can be disposed of. The nearest licensed incinerator is located in Fosston, roughly four hours north of Litchfield.
Pollution control also played a part in program development, Scheppmann said.
Flushing allows medications to get into the water system and there is no way to filter them out, Scheppmann said, explaining that as a result, they get into the waterways and have a negative effect on the fish population.
Norlin said they will see how the program goes in Litchfield and then possibly consider other cities where law enforcement is contracted, such as Dassel.
The drop box is secured in the entryway of the law enforcement center in Litchfield and can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Any medications can be brought there to dispose of, however, glass and needles are prohibited.