Agencies holding drug ‘take-back’ event

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drug abuse has long been a problem in the United States.

     But recently abusers have turned to a different type of drug: prescription painkillers.

     This has spawned prescription drug “take-back” days across the country in recent years. Until now, though, Brookhaven has not had one.

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     But that will change on Saturday, April 28, when the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Brookhaven Police Department combine with the Southwest Mississippi Narcotics Enforcement Unit to host the first prescription drug take-back day. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration will sponsor the event.

     The take-back will take place in the parking lot of the Brookhaven Police Department at 440 Highway 51 South from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

     Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said he knows of other cities that have hosted similar events, including McComb, but it has never happened in Brookhaven.

     “We’re trying to give people an opportunity to dispose of their prescription drugs in the proper manner,” Rushing said. “Having prescription drugs around leaves a danger of someone getting into them. They do expire after a while and people steal them.”

     Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the purpose of the event is getting potentially dangerous prescription pills out of people’s homes.

     “It’s important because people have old medications they need to get rid of and this is an opportunity to get rid of medicines they don’t need,” said Henderson. “We don’t want any kids or anyone getting their hands on them.”

     There’s been a push to not throw prescription drugs in the trash or flush them like has been done for years. Rushing said someone could find them in the trash and there is thinking that flushing them could contaminate the groundwater.

     The sheriff said prescription pills have been the motive behind break-ins in the past and they do occur from time to time.

     “They are beginning to be one of the most abused things out there, which has led to theft,” Rushing said. “I recommend people who have pills, especially pain pills to keep them secure, and if they’re not needed anymore dispose of them.”

     Tim Vanderslice, commander of the Southwest Mississippi Narcotics Task Force, said prescription drugs have become a big problem for that agency.

     “Many younger people will take pills, especially those with codeine in them, to try to get high,” Vanderslice said. “Sometimes this is combined with alcohol, which can make it even more dangerous.”

     People think that they cannot get addicted to a prescription pill, but Vanderslice points out that is not true.

     “You can get addicted to prescription painkillers just as much as a drug like cocaine or heroin,” he said.

     Many people worry about privacy as their names are on the bottles, but Vanderslice says no questions will be asked and people are encouraged to remove the labels or cross out their names.

     But if that isn’t done, Vanderslice says it can be done on site.

     “If someone drives up and doesn’t have their names crossed out, we’ll have some markers there to cross out their names …,” he said. “Our agents will assist them cross out their names and throw them in the box, but they will not ask any questions or try to make a case.”

     Rushing and Henderson said they hope to see a good turnout for the event.

     “It’s the first time we’ve done it and we’re trying to make it convenient, so if you have pills you’d like to safely dispose of, come by,” Rushing said.

     The police chief agreed.

     “I hope we have a good response to this,” Henderson said. “We want to do everything we can to do our part at the police department. People can just drive around and drop their stuff off, so it will be convenient.”