Byline: Braden Harper/Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Over time, collecting various medications that pile up in the medicine cabinet is normal. However, it can be dangerous if they fall into the hands of a child or someone that might misuse them. That is why it is crucial to correctly dispose of unwanted or expired medications within your household. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Behavioral Health, Oklahoma State University, and the Okmulgee County Consortium collected unwanted medicines at the medication take-back event on Oct. 26.
The annual event was open to the public and was located at the Okmulgee Indian Community Center. A drive-through booth was set up to collect unwanted pills, capsules, or liquids. The event’s accessibility allowed the drop-off process to be quick and anonymous. MCN Lighthorse Community Outreach Coordinator Malissa Beaver was on site to ensure the safety of the medication disposal.
MCN Behavioral Health Project Manager Tyler Stone said the event is a great way to clean out your medicine cabinet. His team collects anywhere, on average, from 50 to 75 pounds worth of unwanted medications every take-back event.
“We just want to set up an opportunity for people who are in the community who have any unused, unwanted medication, or expired medication to have a way to drop it off in a secure and safe way,” Stone said.
After each take-back event, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics collects and returns the medication to their facility.
While cleaning out your cabinet is a great way to stay organized, properly disposing of medication can also be a life-or-death situation for children. It is safer not to have unwanted medicines in the house.
“We don’t want kids to get involved with finding medications, taking those leading to any kind of fatal poisonings,” Stone said.
The event gave resource guides on how to dispose of medications properly. Medication lock boxes were also handed out, free of charge. Lockboxes allow drugs to be stored to where they can be exclusively accessed so that someone does not accidentally overdose or misuse them.
“They don’t have to worry about if somebody was looking for some of those medications; they’re secured properly,” Stone said. “There may also be somebody struggling with thoughts of suicide; sometimes they may try to find pills to try and take their life.”
Stone said it is best to consult your doctor or local pharmacist if you are unsure whether to keep or toss a medication in your cabinet.
Medication take-back events are held periodically throughout the year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recognizes Oct. 29 as DEA National Rx Take Back Day. Their website even features a collection site locator that can determine when and where the next medication take-back event will be hosted in your area.