Local law enforcement helped residents properly dispose of their expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs Saturday.
The Cape Coral Police Department took part in the second annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a national effort aimed at ridding homes of potentially dangerous medications and helping to prevent pill abuse and theft. The Lee County Sheriff's Office and Fort Myers Police Department also participated.
Cape police were set up at two sites the Wal-Mart on Del Prado Boulevard South and the Walgreens on Cape Coral Parkway East for four hours to collect prescription drugs dropped off by people. The service was free and anonymous no questions were asked.
"People are very satisfied that we're offering this," Officer Jason Criazzo said.
He was manning the booth at the Wal-Mart, along with Officer Kelvin Thompkins.
As of about 1:30 p.m., the two had filled approximately four 45-gallon trash bags with medications collected from the public. Some of the items dropped off included over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, syringes and even tubes of inhalation solution.
"A mix bag of everything," Thompkins said.
According to Criazzo, the event provides the public was the opportunity to properly dispose of the drugs rather than throwing them out in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, which could enable the drugs to get into the local water supply or the soil.
"People don't know where it's going when they put it out in the trash," he said.
Removing expired, unused and unwanted medications from the home medicine cabinet can prevent people from accidentally taking the wrong drug and reduce the chance of over- or under-medicating. It can also keep the drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
Currently, more Americans are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined. In Florida, seven people die per day from prescription drug abuse.
According to the DEA, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
"A lot of people hold onto their medication for this day," Thompkins said of the event.
"It's just another service we're trying to provide for the community," he added.
People who did not know about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day stopped to ask the officers what the booth was for and what they were doing. Some were upset that they did not know about the collection day, explaining that they had items to get rid of.
"Some people have actually gone home and come back," Thompkins said.
The Cape police will weigh then store the collected items until the DEA picks them up. The DEA will weigh and count the items before incinerating them to properly dispose of the drugs. In Florida, four and a half tons of prescription drugs were collected last year.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office held its Operation Medicine Cabinet event at the Tanger Outlet Mall 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One lady dropping off her parent's prescriptions commented that her mother had recently been admitted to the hospital because she accidently took some of her old medications along with her newer medications causing a negative reaction, Sheriff's Office officials said in a prepared statement, adding she was happy to hear about this event and how she could safely dispose of her these medications and keep her parents safe.
The Sheriff's Office collected:
The Lee County Sheriff's Office is partnering with the Florida Crime Prevention Association, Abby Services, and CVS Pharmacy for "Operation Medicine Cabinet." So far the Lee County Sheriff's Office has held seven events and in 2011 has collected:
Another series of events are planned for the first week of October.
Nationwide, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds about 121 tons.