There will be a prescription medication take-back event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at three locations across Jackson County.
The three locations are the Ravenswood Fire Department, the Ripley Walmart, and the Kenna Volunteer Fire Department, said Amy Haskins, administrator of the Jackson County Health Department and president of the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition.
The event is sponsored by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, the Jackson County Health Department, the Ravenswood Police Department, the Ripley Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition.
There are three permanent drop-boxes for unwanted medication in Jackson County. They are located in the lobbies of the Ripley and Ravenswood police departments, as well as the lobby of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Each drop box has a sign that details what can and cannot be dropped off, Haskins said.
The drug take-back event Saturday is for anyone who, for whatever reason, doesn't feel comfortable using the drop boxes.
"There are a lot of people who do not like to drop it in a box. They like to have someone to hand it to," Haskins said. "We have coalition volunteers that work that day. We have a law enforcement official who is also there to help us."
The DEA established drug take-back events several years ago in hopes of reducing the amount of opioids on the streets, Haskins said.
"They saw that a lot of states across nation were having issues with the opioid problem because of leftover medication in homes. They chose to take it upon themselves to help diminish the issue and help get rid of medications," she said.
But drug take-back events were happening in Jackson County well before that. The Anti-Drug Coalition started doing them nearly a decade ago.
"We were just sitting in a coalition meeting one night, talking about why we were having some of the problems we were having in our own community. We got to talking about the fact that people have too much medication in their homes, whether it's because they had extra left over after a surgery or whatever the reason may be," Haskins said.
Mike Bright was sheriff at the time. Haskins recalled he wasn't sure it would work, but was happy to give it a try.
"We sat in front of the sheriff's department; it was in their old building. We probably had over $12,000 that was taken off the streets. That's how it began," Haskins said.
Each year, officials had to write to the DEA to get permission to hold the events quarterly.
"You're hoping to take back controlled substances. The only way for that to happen is for law enforcement to do it. The average person can't be in possession of anyone else's controlled substance. We got special permission every year," Haskins said.
For a while, the DEA did take-back events twice a year and local ones took place quarterly. Once the permanent drop boxes were installed, thanks to grant funding, the take-back events were scaled back to just twice a year.
Needles can be brought in to the take-back events, but cannot be dropped off in the permanent drop boxes. Officials ask for medication to be brought in its original containers.
"You can mark out your personal information with a Sharpie," Haskins said.