February 02, 2011 Edition

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Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson (center) and ATOD Project Director Alison Oglesby (left) show the county's new prescription drug drop box to State Drug Director Fran Flener on Tuesday.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

County offers permanent
drop box prescriptions

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and the local ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) Coalition have joined together to provide residents with a safe way to dispose of unused prescription medications.

A drop box, located at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, allows individuals to put pills in, either in the original containers or in baggies provided by the LCSD.

"This is a no-questions-asked drop box," Sheriff Jody Dotson said.

The drop box is an old safe that was donated by former sheriff, Dan Ellison. Dotson said when he began talking about putting in a drop box, Ellison said he had the perfect thing.

The box has a slot that allows the pills to be deposited, but metal fingers inside the box prevent someone from reaching into the box and pulling the medications back out.

In addition, Lawrence Memorial Hospital donated a sharps container for disposal of syringes.

State Drug Director Fran Flener was in Walnut Ridge Tuesday and was pleased to see the community involvement in the program.

She said the statewide prescription drug take-back day that was held in September netted almost three tons of pills. Another statewide day is planned in April, but she said the goal is to have permanent drop boxes, like the new one in Lawrence County, positioned throughout the state.

"Prescription drugs are rapidly becoming our most significant drug problem," Flener said. "About 25 percent of high school seniors say they have abused prescription medication, and two-thirds of young people report getting pills from friends, family and people they know."

She noted that often parents or grandparents might not even realize that excess medication is missing.

"We need to treat prescription drugs like we do a loaded gun or fine jewelry," Flener said.

One way to prevent medication from falling into the wrong hands is to use the drop box.

"The pills that are dropped off here are never going to be abused by some young person," Flener said. "They will never be diverted in any way or sold to make a profit, and they will not ever be in a place to hurt our environment."

Flener said prescription drug drop boxes and take-back days provide a way for community members to help in a very simple way.

"If we can limit access to these medications, it will make a difference," she said.

She praised the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement entities throughout the state.

"Arkansas law enforcement has really stepped up to the plate on this," Flener said. "We've had two times the number of law enforcement agencies and three times the sites as any other state."

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