Initiative seeks to collect unused meds

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Saturday, the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will address a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows the majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Locally, sites are available around Union Parish from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 24, to participate in this national event. Bring your pills for disposal to one of four locations: Bernice Pharmacy at 417 East Main Street in Bernice, Union Parish Sheriff’s Office at 710 Holder Road in Farmerville, CommuniHealth Services at 335 Main Street in Marion, or the Children’s Coalition at 117 Hall Street in Monroe.

Sites will accept pills, patches, liquids, or vape pens – they cannot accept needles, sharps, or aerosols. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. To keep everyone safe, collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. This program began when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – posed potential safety and health hazards.

Medications thrown in the trash can be retrieved and sold or misused and drugs that are flushed can contaminate the water supply. Proper drug disposal not only can save lives but protect the environment.

Through incredible partnerships with the DEA, U-ACT - a program of the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana - the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy, CommuniHealth Services, Bernice Pharmacy, and the Union Parish Sheriff ’s Office, this national initiative for the safe disposal of prescription drugs is now a reality in northeast Louisiana.

S/T Michael Reichardt with Louisiana State Police says, “It is imperative that people with old medication, especially narcotics, dispose of them properly before they get into the hands of someone that doesn’t need them or improperly disposes of them. This is a free service that is offered in our community and one that is needed. I hope people take the time to come out and dispose of their prescriptions properly instead of flushing them.”

Bernice Pharmacy Manager Brandon Keaster says, “Bernice Pharmacy is proud to host the DEA National Prescription Takeback Day. We love working together with partners in our community to protect our families and make the community safer for all.”

Community members who are unable to attend Drug Take Back Day can use permanent drop boxes located throughout the different parishes. Visit takebackday.dea.gov/content/secure-your-meds to find a drop box near you.