CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office hopes fewer unwanted prescription drugs are on bathroom shelves and affecting the water system after its drug “take-back” event on Saturday.
OSCO members were stationed in front of several Walmart locations, including the Crestview Super center, to take back unused prescription drugs. Walmart stores in Niceville, Destin and Fort Walton Beach were also accepting drop-offs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"This program is a very safe and effective way to make sure those pills are properly disposed of," Michele Nicholson, an OCSO spokesperson, said. "This will be our third year taking part and it has been very successful."
The department collaborated with the Drug Enforcement Administration for the event. The Crestview location had a drop-off box that allowed the public simply to place their unused prescriptions into. The service is free with no questions asked.
“It’s a very good thing that they are doing,” Crestview resident Josephine Shaw said, adding that her medications were piling up after he doctor changed her prescription.
“My doctors told me I shouldn’t flush them down the toilet,” Shaw said.
That’s when she decided to participate in the program.
Flushing medication down the drain and throwing prescription drugs in the trash can present safety and health hazards, according to a sheriff’s office news release. Harmful chemicals can enter the water system when drugs are flushed down the drain.
“I refuse to dispose of them any other way,” Jean McConnell, who also dropped off a bag of unused medication, said. This was her second time to participate in the program.
Unused medications were to be incinerated, according to the OCSO.
Last year, the department took in more than 160 pounds of unused prescription drugs during a one-day event. After seeing how successful the event was and hearing public input, Sheriff Larry Ashley decided to set up a program where several OSCO stations could take the unwanted prescriptions.
The public can go to any OSCO location in the county and turn in unwanted medications during business hours.
Many of the department’s patrol officers have been trained to handle the drugs properly, a news release stated.
The University of California found that 80 percent of U.S. lakes and streams had small amounts of human medicines. Its study, which noted small traces of medication were found in drinking water, also showed that fish and other aquatic life were adversely affected from exposure to the drugs.