Drug take back programs thriving in East Alabama

SMITHS STATION, AL (WTVM) - Drug take-back programs are sweeping the nation and in East Alabama, law enforcement is seeing first hand how these programs are battling the opioid epidemic.

Just inside the doors of the Smith Station Government Center lies the newest spot for people to come and drop off expired and unwanted prescription drugs.

The program is part of "CVS Safer Communities,"  in which CVS Pharmacy teamed up with The Partnership at Drugfree.org to create an innovative community donation program.

The program allows local police departments to apply to receive a drug collection unit to help their communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances.

Law enforcement drug collection programs help rid communities of unwanted medications that may otherwise be diverted, abused or contaminate our water supply.

The Lee County Sheriff's Department says they've seen hundreds of pounds of prescription drugs dropped off by East Alabamians, and getting rid of drugs the right way is crucial.

"It prevents individuals from having to resort to disposing of medications improperly by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, which is never the way to dispose of these medicines, or risking an issue where they may be illegally obtained and dispensed on the streets, " Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.

Law enforcement across Alabama are battling the opioid epidemic that's taken the Yellowhammer State by storm. According to the governor's office, 736 people in Alabama died from overdoses in 2015, almost half of those came from abusing opioids like codeine or hydrocodone.

Over 60 per 100 people in Lee County were prescribed opioids in 2016, and drug take-back programs are one way to make sure those medicines don't end up in the wrong hands.

"It's a convenient way for them to drop off their unwanted drugs at the government center since they'll be here anyway," said Smith Station Communication Director Lisa Deason.

The new location in Smith Station will accept all prescribed drugs as long as they're not liquid.

"Anybody from anywhere that wants to use this as a location to drop off their unwanted prescriptions is welcome to do so," Deason said.

"We are very pleased with this program, it's worked out very well for us," Jones said.

Programs like the one happening in Smith Station and Lee County are also happening elsewhere across Alabama. Eufaula Police collected nearly 100 pounds of prescription drugs in 2016, there are also drop off locations in Chambers County as well.

To find the nearest drop off location to you, click here.

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