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They Want Your Drugs

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They Want Your Drugs

(This is a good thing)

It seems an unlikely triumvirate: the Bonner General Hospital Foundation, the Idaho Conservation League, and the Sandpoint Police Department. But the three organizations have come together for one purpose: to get your unneeded and unused prescription drug medications off the streets and out of the places they don’t belong.

This August, they unveiled a program where citizens throughout Bonner County can drop off their drugs at the Sandpoint police station (located at 1123 Lake Street) on any Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.

“Pharmaceutical theft is a huge problem in Sandpoint,” said Sandpoint Police Chief Mark Lockwood in a press release about the program. “Too often prescription drugs, particularly opiate pain relievers, such as codeine and hydrocodone, are accessible to our youth in their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.”

Or those drugs might end up in our water. “The last thing we want is for people to flush these drugs down the toilet or pour them down the sink,” said ICL Associate Susan Drumheller. “Pharmaceuticals are a growing threat to water quality in North Idaho and across the nation. We need to protect our lakes and rivers for future generations, and for the fish and wildlife that also call Bonner County home.”

Neither city sewage treatment systems nor home septic systems are designed to remove pharmaceutical medications from the waste stream, so washing antibiotics down the sink, or dumping valium into the toilet, is just like pouring the same directly into the lake or into the streams that feed our aquifer. A nationwide study by the U.S. Geological Survey found pharmaceuticals in 80 percent of U.S. streams. 

The Drug Drop Off Program does not include liquids, syringes or Epipens. The coalition recommends: “Liquids should be mixed with coffee grounds, kitty litter or other undesirable substances and put into a sealed container before being put into household trash.”

Bonner General is also an enthusiastic supporter of controlling prescription and even over-the-counter medications. Sheryl Rickard, CEO at Bonner General, explained, “Too often we’re seeing patients in the Emergency Department [who] have no idea what they’ve ingested or what harm the drug can do to them,” she said. “Teens will take a handful of pills hoping for a high and end up in a life-threatening situation instead.”

The law states that only law enforcement agencies have the ability to accept controlled substances from the public, which is why unused medications cannot simply be turned back to the pharmacies where they were purchased, or to the doctors who prescribed them. Before dropping off prescription drugs, people are encouraged to remove any personal information from the bottle  by covering it with a permanent marker. Do not remove the label, as proper disposal requires knowing what drugs are actually in the container.

“This program is anonymous,” reads the press release, “and donors will not be questioned. The officer on duty will oversee disposal into a secure bin.”

-Trish Gannon

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Landon Otis

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Homepage, Headlines, Idaho Conservation League, Bonner County, Bonner General Hospital, water quality, prescription drugs, Sandpoint Police Department, drug drop off

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