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Discard unused drugs? Drop them off at police HQ

Thousands of pounds of prescriptions disposed of since 2012

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Unused drugs logo

In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, an estimated 18 million people misused prescription medications at least once during the previous year.

Among youth, prescription drugs are the most widely abused illicit drugs after alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Further, studies show that the majority of youth obtain prescription drugs from friends and relatives, often without their knowledge.

To help blunt this trend, in 2012, Arlington police, in partnership with the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, installed a medication disposal drop box in the lobby of the police headquarters. The drop box allows Arlington residents to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications. The secure collection box is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week.  

Acting Chief Julie Flaherty and coalition Director Karen Koretsky report the following about drop box.

 Every six weeks APD's property officer/inspector takes the unwanted drugs that have been collected to a local incinerator for destruction, which helps to keep substances out of landfills or from being flushed down the drain. On average, the Inspector delivers about 220 pounds of medications to the inci The drug disposal kiosk is located in the lobby of the Arlington Police Headquarters and is available 24/7 for residents to drop off unwanted medications. (Photo courtesy Arlington Police Department)nerator every six weeks. 

The department estimates that 1,900 pounds of unwanted medications are disposed of each year. Since the installation of the disposal box in 2012, an estimated 14,000 pounds of unwanted medications have been collected and destroyed.

"The collection site has fulfilled the need for an environmentally sound medication-disposal option, which helps to ensure that excess medications are kept out of the hands of people not meant to have them," Flaherty said in a Sept. 12 news release.

The collection box is part of Arlington’s continued efforts to reduce the supply of unwanted medications, especially those with a high potential for misuse, within the community. 

Along with the 24/7 drop box, Arlington police have participated in each of the DEA drug-takeback events since September 2010. Since their first year participating, the department has taken in and disposed of about 2,500 pounds of medication.

APD and the coalition also take steps to educate the community on the importance of properly disposing of medications.

"This multifaceted approach to medication disposal is a fantastic initiative where several local partners work together to help improve the safety of the community and the environment," Koretsky said in the release.

"September is recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as National Recovery Month, so this is a great time to raise awareness for proper medication disposal and its impact on preventing and reducing prescription drug abuse."


This news announcement was published Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.

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