Hoping to combat a lethal scourge, the Payson Police Department has set up a box in the lobby of its headquarters for people to drop unused or unwanted prescription drugs.
The number of deaths from an overdose of prescription drugs had doubled and redoubled in recent years. More than 22,000 people die from overdoses each year, mostly opiate-based painkillers. Prescription drug overdoses now rank just behind auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths — and far outpace deaths from overdoses of illegal drugs. In Arizona, prescription drug overdose deaths increased from 2.5 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 12 per 100,000 in 2005, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
The green Med Return Box, located in the department’s foyer, at 303 N. Beeline Highway, can accept nearly all prescriptions, including patches, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and medications for pets.
However, do not use the box to dispose of needles, medication from businesses or clinics, ointments, solutions or liquids, aerosol can inhalers, hydrogen peroxide or thermometers, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler.
“The purpose of this box is to keep prescription medications away from our children and out of our water supply, as well as keeping it out of the hands of anyone else who would misuse these prescription drugs,” he said.
The Med Return Box was purchased with funds from the Eastern Area Health Education Center Community and the Rim Country Coalition with the assistance of Education Coordinator Holly Crump and Coordinator Dee Redfield. The Med Return Box will remain in the Payson Police Department lobby 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This Med Return Box is a huge benefit to the community,” Engler said. “It will help keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands and help to battle the growing prescription drug misuse in our community.”