Looking for a safe and anonymous way to dispose of unused prescription medications, other over-the-counter drugs or illicit substances?
The Eagan Police Department will soon be collecting unused drugs and medications at a secure dropbox stationed inside the police department lobby. Local residents will be able to drop off pills and other substances—no questions asked—during the department's normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
The substances will be collected on a daily basis, weighed by officers and transported to an incinerator for disposal, according to city officials.
The drug dropoff is a safer alternative than flushing medications down a toilet, according to city and police officials, who say flushing medications into the sewer system can have an adverse effect on the environment. Chemicals in prescription medications can escape wastewater treatment facilities and build up in local waterways, altering fish and wildlife through a process known as bioaccumulation, according to an international study cited in the Washington Post.
But environmental damage isn't the only concern police officials hope to combat with the implementation of a safe disposal program. Presciprtion drug abuse is second only to marijuana use nationally, with as many as 22 million individuals abusing medications since 2002, according to the 2010-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Locally, Eagan police officers have also responded to deaths and overdoses connected to prescription medications, according to a memo released by city officials.
Removing stored or unused medications from homes reduces the risk of abuse or accidental ingestion, according to Dakota County officials, who say unsecured medications pose a particularly high risk to teens.
Through a partnership with the county, Eagan will be responsible for the cost of purchasing and installing a disposal box, while the county will cover the costs associated with transporting and disposing of the medication collected.
Eagan is just one of several Dakota County cities offering drug disposal programs. The Burnsville Police Department also has a disposal box, as does Hastings and West St. Paul.
Eagan's disposal box will likely be available for use in March, according to police department spokeswoman Desiree Schroepfer.
The drug disposal program does not accept the following:
- Needles or sharps
- Cancer medications
- Medical waste or any items contaminated with bodily fluids