Eight pounds of prescription drugs collected by law enforcement
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Eight pounds of prescription drugs collected by law enforcement

As part of an effort to prevent pill abuse and theft, a free and anonymous Take Back event was held Saturday in Vermillion.

Eight pounds of prescription drugs were collected during the event, Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Pederson said.

Community members could drop off their expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vermillion High School or Middle School.

The event was hosted by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Vermillion Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Saturday was Pederson’s third time overseeing a Take Back event. He said his primary role was to act as security for the pills that were dropped off.

Names and number of people who utilized the service were not recorded, he added. The only measurement taken is the total amount of pills that were collected and weighed by the DEA.

As long as illegal drugs or needles aren’t dropped off, there are “no questions asked,” according to the Vermillion Police Department news release about the event.

Pederson said Take Back events look to prevent pill abuse and addiction, as well as incorrect disposal.

He said a specific example of potential abuse could be a person using leftover Oxycontin that was prescribed for a previous surgery later in time on an unrelated, less severe injury.
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“Which tends to lead then to addiction,” Pederson said.

This is especially true for families, he added, because children may take something without consent from their parents or knowledge of the drug’s side effects.

According to the release, the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.

“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse,” the release said. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.”

Previously located at the VPD station, Pederson said the Take Back service was moved to the Vermillion schools to make the event “more welcoming,” as people may have been nervous dropping off their unwanted pills near the station in years past.

“It’s a very non-confrontational event for them,” he said.

Pederson added that the police station does have a permanent prescription drug drop-off location in the hall of the VPD station, where the same “no questions asked” policy applies.

(Photo: Deputy Paul Pederson of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office presides over the drug disposal box on Saturday at the Vermillion High School. Mason Dockter / The Volante)