Niagara Gazette — It looks like a little green mailbox.
Tucked into the front lobby of the Falls Municipal Complex, it represents another way city cops are trying to attack the rising epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
Nicknamed the “Drug Dropbox”, the correctly titled pharmaceutical disposal unit, will allow folks a way to get rid of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs. The box was provided by the Niagara County Department of Public Works, Division of Environmental/ Solid Waste, in conjunction with the Niagara County Sheriffs Office.
“It was their idea to provide an outlet to drop off prescription drugs,” Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. “And we thought it was a great program, so we were happy to sign up.”
The box is intended for Niagara County residents and can be used for the disposal of controlled substances, out-dated medications, unwanted medications, over-the-counter medications or any other pharmaceutical item. Hypodermic needles, other sharp instruments or items containing mercury may not be put in the box.
“It’s very similar to a mailbox,” DalPorto said. “It’s before you reach the security (checkpoint) and we do watch to make sure there is (nothing but) medications in there,”
Falls police already participate in the National Take Back Initiative. The program, run jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney’s Office, and staged twice a year, also allows the public to drop off unneeded or unwanted prescription medications at designed sites, no questions asked.
We’ve always participated in that and that will continue,” DalPorto said.
In recent years, prescription drug abuse has been one of the fastest growing crimes in the Falls. Narcotics detectives say they’re making more arrests involving prescription pills and investigators believe the abuse is fueling an uptick in burglaries and thefts.
“(Prescription drug abuse) is one of our major concerns because it leads to harder drugs,” DalPorto said. “The goal here is to provide an easy and safe way to dispose of medications so they don’t fall into the wrong hands or end up in the environment,”
Recent local Take Back Initiatives have seen upward of six tons of medication dropped off. That would translate to over 18 million pills.
Some studies have shown that one out of every six high school students say they have taken a prescription pill without a doctor’s prescription. Out of that number, one in three says the pill was given to them by a friend or family member.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, fatal poisonings from (prescription drug) overdoses tripled nationally to nearly 14,000 deaths between 1999 and 2006 and emergency room visits for the misuse of prescription drugs doubled from 500,000 to 1 million between 2004 and 2008.