Tucson residents can dispose of unwanted prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicine through drop boxes around the city.
In October, the Pima County-Tucson Commission on Addiction Prevention and Treatment, along with four other community coalitions, announced the availability of five drop boxes, one at each of the Tucson Police Department stations.
Within one month of the announcement, more than 100 pounds of medications had been collected, “removing these prescription drugs from the potential misuse by teens,” according to Amy Bass, project director and prevention director for the Pima County Prevention Coalition of Compass- SAMHC Behavioral Healthcare.
Currently, all five drop boxes have collected a total of more than 300 pounds of disposed prescription medications, said Lieutenant Mike Pryor, a member of the Community Prevention Coalition Steering Committee and Pima County-Tucson Commission on Addiction Prevention and Treatment.
The southside dropbox location collected the least, with about 39 pounds, while the midtown box has collected the most with about 105 pounds of medications.
Prescription drug use is a continuous problem in Pima County, Bass said.
In the county, about 8 percent of youth in grades eight, 10 and 12 reported prescription medication use in the past 30 days for non-prescribed purposes in 2012, according to the Arizona Youth Survey.
In addition to the commission, the Community Prevention Coalition, Amistades Incorporated and 29th Street 4 R Communities received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration while also contributing $1,000 each to would help pay for the permanent drop boxes, Bass said.
Pryor led the effort gaining support from the Tucson Police Department and another coalition, Luz Southside.
“Sometimes when you’re doing something as a group, and then someone steps out and takes the lead, that’s what the commission did—stepped up and took the lead,” Bass said.
For more information:
epa.gov (keyword: medical sharps)
pharmacy.arizona.edu (keyword: safe disposal)
Tucsonans can dispose of any medications other than liquids and sharp objects like needles. To get rid of liquids, community members can attend regular take-back events held by the Community Prevention Coalition throughout the city. Sharps can be disposed at home under precautions found online at sites like safeneedledisposal.org, according to the Tucson Police Department.
The Community Prevention Coalition also aims to raise awareness about the potential harm medications have on the city’s water supply. If not disposed of properly, drugs can contaminate the water supply and traces of the medications can show up in the drinking water, according to a Be RXSafe press release.
Right now the drop boxes are only available within the City of Tucson. Bass explained that they are not found in sheriff offices, because no one is there to continually operate the front desk and monitor incoming drugs.