As part of a nationwide pill drop-off campaign, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, or CMANS, will have a Pill Take Back program from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kmart in Canton.
CMANS is conducting the drop-off as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s nationwide effort, which will take place on the same day.
The agency’s Commander Phil Price said he’s expecting between 30 and 60 pounds to be dropped off at the local location.
The program gives residents the opportunity to hand over unused or unwanted prescription drug medications, he said.
The drop-off campaigns are catching on as research has found flushing prescription medications down the toilet leads to traces of the drugs ending up in the environment, Price added.
This is the fourth scheduled drug take-back program the DEA has coordinated.
“Every time we do it, we get a pretty good response,” he said.
In addition to the days reserved for take-back programs, CMANS in the last two years has placed drop boxes at the Holly Springs, Canton and Woodstock police department locations as an initiative to convince residents to drop off their unwanted pills.
Price said the boxes are needed as CMANS as well as other local law enforcement agencies are seeing steep increases in prescription drug abuse.
The commander said many of those who come to abuse prescription drug medications often steal them from the medicine cabinets of loved ones.
Furthermore, once a terminally ill family member passes away, Price said hospice and hospitals are prohibited from taking back medications, so they are turned over to family.
The pill drop boxes as well as Saturday’s event prevents all that, Price said.
“This just seemed like a good opportunity for us to do something positive,” he said.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison agreed, adding the boxes as well as the DEA’s efforts are helping curb the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
“This provides a legitimate disposal method to get those drugs out of circulation where they can’t be abused,” he said.
Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said he believed the rise in prescription drug abuse is also being fueled by influx of “pill mills,” which is sweeping the country.
Unlike legitimate pain management clinics, pill mills do not write prescriptions for patients, but rather allow patients to choose which drugs they want. Patients also often pay in cash for the medication, which includes hard-hitting pain medication such as Oxycontin.
The cities of Woodstock and Holly Springs enacted ordinances regulating pain management clinics in an effort to pre-empt pill mills from gaining ground in their jurisdictions.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners also passed an ordinance regulating the practice.
Ball added his department’s pill-drop off box has seen consistent use.
He said he routinely gets calls from relatives of people who’ve died, inquiring about what do to with unwanted and unused prescription medication.
“It’s a good way to dispose of it and get it out of your house,” he said of the drop-off boxes.