Putnam County residents soon will have a permanent place to get rid of unwanted or expired medications.
It's been a goal of Sheriff Steve Deweese's since the election but took several months to implement. He said there were a number of procedural things that had to be done before the drug collection unit, produced by MedReturn of Wisconsin, could be installed in the lobby at the sheriff's department's headquarters in Winfield.
In addition to making sure the drop box would be in a secure location, the sheriff's department also had to get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The department began the process in March and expect to have the box ready by the next national drug take back event set for Oct. 26.
The sheriff's department partnered with the Putnam Wellness Anti Drug Coalition to purchase and install the drop box. The drop box will be officially opened to the public on Oct. 26.
"Right now the citizens of Putnam County can only make drops twice a year," Deweese said Tuesday. "This will give them the opportunity to drop them off Monday through Friday."
He didn't call it a campaign promise, but said it was one of the things he'd hoped to accomplish as sheriff.
Prescription drug abuse has become a problem for many counties and Putnam is no different, he said. There have been instances where homes have been broken into for prescription drugs.
The sheriff hopes that providing a permanent place to get rid of those unwanted or expired medications will cut down on break-ins.
"The biggest thing here is we're being proactive instead of reactive to the problem," Deweese said.
Putnam County has participated in the DEA's national take back events in the past. The take back events usually bring in 250 to 300 pounds of medications.
Deweese said the last take back event held in April brought in 248.8 pounds of unwanted or expired medications.
More than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs, according to a 2011 national survey on drug use and health. About 7.4 percent of youths between 12 and 17 who participated in the study reported using prescription drugs that year for non-medical reasons.
"Properly disposing of excess drugs is everyone's responsibility as a matter of public safety," Deweese said in a statement. "More than 70 percent of young people abusing prescription pain relievers get them through friends or family, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.
"Now Putnam County citizens won't have to wait for a specific take back day to clean out their medicine cabinets."
Maintenance workers have fixed the green locked drop box to the floor in the lobby of the sheriff's department.
Deweese said it would be ready to accept prescription medications once the cameras are installed, which is expected to be done before the end of next week.
"Can never be too safe," Deweese said.
The sheriff will inventory the medications twice a month and then hold them in the department's evidence room until the next take back event when they would be destroyed.
He said medications could be left with no questions asked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.