"The average home has two pounds of unused and unwanted medications to dispose of each year," Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten explained. What to do with those medications has become a conundrum. It's illegal to flush the meds or to throw them into the trash. "Most people just stick them in the back of a medicine cabinet."
The back of the medicine cabinet has become a popular source of drugs among today's teens. Ann Orren, Coordinator of the Chemical Health Coalition (CHC) of Yellow Medicine County, shared that it is very popular for teens to raid the medicine cabinet and take out the old medications, bring the drugs to a party, throw them in a bowl and then grab handfuls of pills to try and get high. "It's very popular and very dangerous," shared Orren as she stressed that old medications must be disposed of properly and not tucked into the back of the medicine cabinet.
The YMC Sheriff's Office, the CHC and Countryside Public Health have partnered to establish a Medication Safety Program in Yellow Medicine County. "We have the first box set up at the Sheriff's Office," stated Flatten. "We want people to bring their expired medications, unused medications and unwanted medications to the Sheriff's Office and put them in the box." He went on to explain that only law enforcement personnel are allowed to transport the unwanted medications to an incinerator in Douglas County.
Accepted items include: prescription medications, medication samples, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, vitamins, supplements, suppositories, homeopathic medications, leakproof liquid medications, prescription and over-the-counter inhalers, medicated ointments/lotions and unopened EpiPens.
Items that will not be accepted include: needles, sharps, syringes, thermometers, bandages, medical tape, open EpiPens, IV bags, infectious waste and no medicines from businesses, including healthcare facilities, pharmacies, pharmaceutical representatives, doctor's offices and veterinary clinics.
Drop-off instructions: gather unwanted medications, remove the labels or use a permanent marker to black out the name and personal information. Leave the items in their original containers. Take the medications to the Sheriff's Office during regular business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
"We hope to set up additional drop off locations across the county," shared Flaten. Until secure locations can be identified, the only drop off box in the county is at the Sheriff's Office.
For more information contact Bill Flaten at the YMC Sheriff's Office 1-320-564-5902; Ann Orren at CHC 1-320-313-3026 or Linda Norland at Countryside Public Health 1-320-564-3010.