More than 200 local residents cleaned out their medicine cabinets and dropped off medications over the weekend during a medicine collection event organized by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.
The collection took place on Saturday in Orono and was the fifth of its kind that have taken place across Hennepin County since September of last year.
The following results are approximate totals for all the events:
- 2,300 participants
- 423 pounds of controlled narcotics recovered
- 5,100 pounds of non-controlled medicines recovered
“Community participation was outstanding,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, “I met many parents and grandparents at these collection events who were making an effort to protect the children in their homes from potential medication abuse or accidental poisoning.”
Prescription painkillers were among the medications that were collected at the events and these medicines are the most likely to be used improperly, abused, or diverted for illegal sale, according to the sheriff. Additionally, young children are at risk of accidental poisonings from ingesting medications that are not secured, and collection events are designed for residents to dispose of medications in a safe and legal manner.
All items that were collected were taken to incinerators for destruction—which is the most environmentally-friendly method of disposal. It is not recommended to flush medicines down the drain or to throw them in the garbage because medications in waste water or in landfills can contaminate bodies of water, harm wildlife and end up in drinking water supplies.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Hennepin County Environmental Services, and North Memorial Hospital have been partners in the five events that took place in St. Louis Park (two events), Brooklyn Center, Richfield and most recently in Orono.
Medications in the home have become a problem for a number of reasons:
- The Centers for Disease Control is calling medication abuse, an epidemic in the U.S.
- One in five teens reports abusing prescription medications. Teens who wouldn’t use illicit drugs might abuse prescriptions.
- Medications are a major law enforcement problem because some of the drugs are controlled substances, and it is very difficult to legally dispose of them.