BENNINGTON — Law enforcement officers, pharmacies and organizations nationwide teamed up on Saturday for the 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
In Bennington County, early estimates indicated the event was a success.
"We've had a really good turnout with a lot of drugs turned in," Bennington Police Lieutenant David Dutcher said at the CVS Pharmacy on Kocher Drive just after 1 p.m. Saturday.
Dutcher said he filled a box during last spring's collection day. By early afternoon Saturday, he had just started a third box. He said his department also had additional medications from the collection box located in the headquarter's lobby.
Dutcher said that after the four-hour collection event was over, his department and the Bennington County Sheriff Department were headed to Manchester, another site taking part in the collection day. From there, the drugs were going to be taken to the Rutland Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office.
He said the DEA will weigh the amount collected in Bennington County, but the number won't be reported for a few days.
State health officials said over 60 sites across Vermont were expected to take part in the nationwide effort led by the federal DEA, during which the public is encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs.
During last year's take-back day, the DEA's New England division collected 67,107 pounds of drugs at 596 collection sites throughout New England.
Nearly three tons of prescription drugs were collected for disposal at Vermont sites alone last year.
Health officials say drug take-back programs provide a safe way to dispose of medications, whether they be allergy medications or opiate painkillers.
"Many Americans are not aware that medicines which languish in home cabinets are highly vulnerable to diversion, misuse, and abuse," DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson said in a news release.
The abuse of prescription pain medication, such as highly addictive opiates, is seen by public health officials as a gateway to heroin addiction. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, which is more than the number of people who abuse of cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens combined. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the country, accounting for more deaths than motor vehicle crashes or firearms.
And while it may sound harmless, experts say most prescription drugs should not be flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink. Traces of pharmaceutical drugs have been found in public water supplies and waterways.
The collection events are held twice a year, in the spring and the fall. But the public can bring their medications any day of the year, no questions asked, to four Bennington County sites: The Bennington County Sheriff's Department, the Bennington Police Department, the Manchester Police Department, or the Winhall Police and Rescue Department.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979