Thirty-nine pounds of unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected during Union County's Drug Take Back Day April 27, part of a national event aimed at safely disposing of unused and unwanted medications.
Capt. Jeff Fisher organized the event for the Union County Sheriff's Office, with the help of Memorial Hospital of Union County. He said it is a vital part of combating drug abuse.
"Prescription drug abuse is a chain in the cycle of more serious drugs," Fisher said. "We've talked to so many heroin addicts that have started out on the hydrocodones or oxycontins. Those are hard to get or too expensive, so they switch to the heroin."
"This has been the largest amount of unused or unwanted medications we've ever collected," Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton said.
Getting unused prescription drugs out of circulation is the goal of the National Drug Take Back Day but the Union County Sheriff's Office has extended the idea to everyday drop-offs.
Patton said his office has set up three drop boxes where medications can be left at any time.
The boxes are available at the Richwood Police Department, 153 N. Franklin St., Richwood, and at the Plain City Police Department, 231 Friend St., Plain City, during business office hours.
There also is a box in the lobby of the Union County Sheriff's Office, 221 W. Fifth St., Marysville, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On April 27, a steady flow of traffic came through the Sheriff's Office sally port for Drug Take Back Day. In addition to the 39 pounds of drugs collected during the drive-through event, another 109 pounds came from the drop boxes, which started collecting in November 2012.
"There were a lot of positive comments about the collection program from those that utilized the drive-through service," Patton said.
"We talk to the people that come in; they hoard their medicine until our Take Back Day," Fisher said.
Representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration picked up the drugs and sent them to a contracted company for incineration.
The National Take Back Prescription Drug Days are sponsored by the DEA and hosted by the Union County Sheriff's Office. Memorial Hospital of Union County partners with the sheriff's office to help advertise and host the events.
The sheriff's office calls unused or expired prescription medications a public safety issue that can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse.
According to information from the DEA, non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most prevalent category of drug abuse in the United States.
Fisher believes the Take Back events do make a difference.
"I think it's helped by getting the drugs out of the medicine cabinet and off the streets," he said.
The next Take Back Day at the Union County Sheriff's Office is scheduled for late September.