Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition and the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department participate in the National Drug Take Back twice a year giving residents the opportunity to dispose of prescription drugs.
Seeing a need for a more permanent take back, the Prevention Coalition applied for a grant through CVS Pharmacy and received a prescription drug drop box that has been permanently installed at the former Pocahontas County Jail.
“Marilyn [Norris] found the opportunity online through CVS Pharmacy,” prevention coordinator Cheryl Jonese said. “They are offering one thousand throughout the nation and so we applied right away. I was thinking, ‘one thousand throughout the nation, what are our chances of getting one,’ but we did.”
The application required involvement of a law enforcement agency and a letter of support from a government agency. With the approval of the County Commission and participation of the Sheriff’s Department, the grant was quickly approved and the box was installed.
The box is located in the old jail. A sign is posted on the building which explains what drugs cannot be put in the box, including sharps and needles. [See sidebar below]
More often than not, the drugs turned in for Take Back days, or to the box, are things that have been mis-prescribed, out-of-date or caused an allergic reaction to the user.
“Sometimes what happens is a doctor will prescribe something for someone and it doesn’t quite do the job,” Jonese said. “Then, he prescribes something else and so they might have a full prescription of maybe a pain medication that they are no longer going to use.”
Jonese recalled a personal experience where she was prescribed a medication only to discover she was allergic to it. She was left with nearly a full prescription because pharmacies cannot take back prescriptions, no matter the circumstance.
“The other thing is, unfortunately, when there is a death in the family and that person has had maybe a chronic illness and had pain meds, families are left with those medications that they need to get rid of,” Jonese said.
Animal prescriptions may also be disposed of in the box.
Once the box is full, a mobile incinerator will come to the jail and destroy the medications.
“Part of the deal with CVS Pharmacy is the Sheriff’s Department will have to provide a weight before the drugs are incinerated,” Jonese said. “They want a report of how much was collected. The state owns four mobile incinerators and when the box is full, we’ll call them and they will come to destroy what we’ve collected.”
Jonese said if a person is unable to climb the steps at the old jail, they may call 304-799-4445 to set up a time to meet someone in the parking lot.
Proper disposal of sharps and needles
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital provides the following information on the proper way to dispose of needles, syringes or lancets.
Place items in a hard-plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid. A coffee can or empty bleach or laundry detergent container will work fine. If using a coffee can, secure the lid with heavy duty tape.
Keep the container close to where you use your sharps to avoid injury. When the container is nearly full, add a sanitizing solution of one teaspoon of household bleach mixed with one pint of water. Seal the container and with a permanent marker print on the bottle “Not recyclable treated sharps.”
Place the sharps container in a plastic bag and seal it with tape in case leakage occurs. Discard with the rest of your garbage.