The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center have announced that a Prescription Drug Take Back will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the SEK Recycling Center, 615 S. Joplin.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center have announced that a Prescription Drug Take Back will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the SEK Recycling Center, 615 S. Joplin.

The day has been designated as National Prescription Drug Take Back Day by the Drug Enforcement Administration to provide a venue for persons who want to safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

“The DEA has been doing this at six-month intervals, but we’ve never done it here before,” said Chuck Delp, recycling center director. “We have wanted to do it. It seemed to me from the very start that this was the logical place to do this. We want to be the place people think of to keep stuff out of the waste stream.”

He said that the DEA will furnish containers for the drugs, pick them  up and dispose of them.

“It won’t cost us anything,” Delp said. “And we won’t have to worry about downstream bad side effects.”

Many people simply flush unwanted medications down the toilet, but Delp said this can have some of those nasty side effects.

“In some place in the United States, large mouth bass were not reproducing properly, so biologists did some DNA studies,” Delp said. “It turned out the problem was due to birth control products being flushed. Some of this stuff has a 200-year shelf life  — it just won’t break down.”

Furthermore, he added, sewage treatment plants are generally not set up to remove these types of chemicals from water.

In addition to the environmental hazards, drugs pose a social risk as well. More than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs. Each day approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Because of this, there will be law enforcement at the recycle center during the event.

“The DEA requires that a badge be present,” Delp said. “We’re going to be doubly safe here. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office will be a part of this, and I’ve received a phone call from the Pittsburg Police Department that they want to be involved as well.”

He said that take back will be a drive-through, with people tossing their unwanted medications into a box, then driving on.

“We don’t care if it’s prescription or non-prescription drugs, and no questions will be asked,” Delp said. “We want this to be as painless as possible.”

He said that those discarding drugs do need to be on time.

“This is federal, and it has to be conducted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. exactly,” Delp said. “If somebody shows up early or comes at 2:05 p.m., we won’t be able  to help them.”

Anyone needing additional information may call the Crawford County Sheriff’s office at 620-724-8274 or the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center at 620-231-8930.