WCSO expands prescription drug collection program

New drop boxes set up at Cottage Grove, Forest Lake county service centers

WashCo_logoThe Washington County Sheriff’s Office is expanding its household pharmaceutical collection program to county services centers in northern and southern Washington County, Sheriff Bill Hutton announced Thursday.

The WCSO will install secure drop boxes at the Cottage Grove Ravine Service Center, 13000 Ravine Parkway South, and the Headwaters Service Center at 19995 Forest Lake Road in Forest Lake. The two new sites join the original drop box set up last April at the Law Enforcement Center on the Government Center campus in Stillwater.

WCSO Cmdr. Brian R. Mueller said all three sites allow county residents to anonymously leave potentially dangerous, expired and unused over-the-counter and prescription medications for destruction in a designated area in the Law Enforcement Center.

The Law Enforcement Center drop box site was an extension of the WCSO’s successful “Drug Take-Back” events that allowed residents to turn in medications to deputies for disposal. Use of LEC drop box convinced the Sheriff’s Office of the need to expand the service in the county, Mueller said.

“Along with the permanent site, we have identified the need for permanent locations for the convenience of residents,” he said.

Mueller said the program has collected “thousands of pounds of pharmaceuticals” that have been destroyed at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-approved facilities.

Mueller said the drop boxes and take-back programs are an effort to combat rising prescription drug abuse.

“Many Americans are not aware that medicines left in homes are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, theft and abuse,” he said. Prescription drug abuse in the U.S. is increasing as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.”

Mueller said improper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications can also have an environmental impact.

“Improperly disposing unused medicine; e.g. flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away, are both potential safety and health hazards,” Mueller said.

All three drop boxes are available to residents from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to Mueller. Residents can get more information about the drop boxes and the Sheriff’s Office at www.wcso.info.