By Kim Steele
Harker Heights Herald
The Harker Heights Police Department is offering a drop-off point for anyone seeking to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs.
The nationwide event, called the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Bins will be set up at the police department, located at 402 Indian Trail, to collect contributed prescription drugs.
"The closest collection place we could find in the area was Temple, so we decided to make it more convenient for area residents by collecting here," said police Lt. Loretta Fox. "We wanted to do it last year, but we missed the deadline. This year, we got everything done in time."
The event is conducted annually by the Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies. During the last two take-back days, which took place Sept. 25, 2010, and April 25, nearly 4,000 law enforcement agencies collected more than 309 tons of pills.
According to the DEA, the event addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. The 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that more than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs.
Each day, about 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.
Fox said prescriptions - and even illegal drugs - can be freely and anonymously disposed of at the police station during the event. Fox said officers will be present, but will not disturb participants. All medicines and drugs will be picked up and disposed of by the DEA, she added.
"This event is important," said Fox. "Medicines that sit in the cabinet can be easily misused and abused. People aren't supposed to throw them away or flush them down the toilet, so this will offer an alternative. I hope people take advantage of this and bring in their unwanted medicines."
Other collection sites can be found by visiting www.dea.gov, clicking on the "Got Drugs?" icon and following the links to a database.
Contact Kim Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567.