Before Wednesday (1/30/2018) there was only one location in Miller County to dispose of unused and expired medications – the Miller County Sheriff’s Office. Now, thanks to the teamwork of the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) and the Texarkana Emergency Center, there are two NEW locations to safely drop off medications in the city! The medications dropped off are regularly collected by law enforcement officials, and are later taken to a facility to be destroyed in an environmentally safe manner.
TAPD spokesperson Cpl. Kristi Bennett said in 2017, residents of Miller County dropped-off more than 230 pounds of unused and out of date prescriptions or over the counter drugs for destruction. She said due to that success,Dr. Matt Young of the Texarkana Emergency Center, invested in two additional drug take back boxes for Texarkana. One box is located behind the Bi State Justice Center (100 N. State Line Ave., Texarkana, AR.) and the other box – or the third medication drop-box in the area – is located outside the Texarkana Emergency Center (4646 Cowhorn Creek Rd., Texarkana, TX).
“It is important to know that law enforcement is only interested in the removal of unused and/or outdated medications and over the counter drugs from the homes of our citizens,” Cpl. Bennett said. “It matters not whose name is on the prescription, by whom it was prescribed, where it was prescribed, or where you reside. We stress that it makes no difference if you live in Texas or Arkansas. We take back all medications, no questions asked.”
However, the law enforcement officers request that people do not deposit any needles or “sharps” without a cap. Cpl. Bennett said people can also hand deliver their medications to officers at the next Arkansas Drug Take Back event, which is set for April 28, at the Miller County Sheriff’s Office on East Street in Texarkana.
“Why should you participate in this proactive effort to remove unused prescription medications from your home?” Bennett asked. “42 percent. That is the percent of teenagers who have abused or misused a prescription drug obtained them from their parent’s medicine cabinet. And 64 percent of teenagers (age 12-
17) who have abused prescription pain relievers said they got them from friends or relatives. About two-thirds of all prescription drugs (which also include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants like Ativan) illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street.”
She added, “Another reason to participate is because leftover medicine is toxic waste. It poses a danger to people, pets, and the environment if it’s not disposed of properly. If flushed or thrown away it can get into the waterways, affecting our drinking water. Just as we don’t put used motor oil or leftover paint thinner in the trash, we should not put toxic leftover medicines in the garbage. Unwanted medicines should be disposed of properly like other household hazardous waste.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control Arkansas is number 2 in the nation in the amount of prescription distribution, at 114.6 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people. The national average is 66.5 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people.
“Arkansas was number 8 in the U.S. in 2015 for the prescribing rate and we increased to number 2 in 2016,”Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said. “That occurred because other states did more to take on the opioid problem. We [Arkansas] have not done enough.”
Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S., exceeding vehicle fatalities by 50 percent. More than 143 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. In Arkansas, 1,067 people have died from a drug overdose in a 3-year span (319 in 2013, 356 in 2014, and 392 in 2015). Arkansas is also in the top 20 percent of states that prescribe the most painkillers per capita.
Cpl. Bennett said that with citizens assistance “We are going to change these statistics!”