Semi-annual drug take-back set this weekend

The twice-annual drug take-back is coming this weekend.

Several police agencies in Warren County will participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency sponsored event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The following agencies and collections sites were listed by DEA: Conewango Township Police at Walmart in North Warren; Pennsylvania State Police at Warren Barracks in Starbrick; City of Warren Police at Third Avenue municipal building; and Youngsville Borough Police at Railroad Street municipal building.

“The Sheriff’s Office will be doing home pick up for those who can not make it to the drop off locations,” Sheriff Ken Klakamp said. “If someone needs assistance please call 723-7553.”

In general, only pills and patches are accepted – liquids, needles, and sharps are not.

However, the City of Warren Police received a donation of sharps containers from Warren General Hospital, according to Sgt. Brandon Deppen. “This will be the only time we will accept sharps,” he said.

According to DEA, the service is free and anonymous – “no questions asked.” If the people dropping off the medications have questions or information, or just want to introduce themselves to local officers, that is fine. “It is a great opportunity to meet your local police officers,” Conewango Chief Jason Peters said. “We often have dialog with those that drop off medications. It gives us the opportunity to answer their questions and learn about their concerns about our community, whether it be reporting traffic complaints or a specific location of suspected drug activity.”

The program first came to the county in Youngsville in 2010. At that event, Youngsville Police collected 21 pounds of unwanted medications, Chief Todd Mineweaser said. From that humble beginning, county residents have gotten rid of “almost a ton of pills.”

A year ago, the collection brought in a county record of 435 pounds. In October, county departments collected 337 pounds of medications.

Statewide, each of the last two take-backs have brought in more than 38,000 pounds of drugs. At the national level, the October take-back brought in more than 647,000 pounds – 324 tons – of unwanted medications.

DEA disposes of the drugs collected at the municipal events, keeping them out of ground water and water treatment facilities where they could end up if flushed or thrown out.

Youngsville offers a drive-up service at the take-back. “You pull in and we’ll come out and pick them up,” Mineweaser said.

“It’s one of our better programs,” Mineweaser said. “I think our community loves it.”

“This is a great opportunity to safely dispose of your unused or expired medications,” Peters said. “This program has been a great success.”

“It’s definitely needed,” Mineweaser said. “That’s why the DEA still does it.”

“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” according to a DEA release. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.”

“Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” the release said. “Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”

Information about the take-back initiative is available at www.dea.gov or by calling 1-800-882-9539, Peters said.