Posted: Wednesday, November 7th 2012 at 2:01pm
Dual permanent drug drop-off boxes dedicated
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Recent efforts by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), and area law enforcement agencies to remove unneeded and expired prescription drugs from the community have been so successful that permanent drop-off sites are now in place.
Lumpkin and White Counties made that move last month and now Hall County is providing secure drop boxes in two locations with a third on the horizon.
The Drug Free Coalition of Hall County, the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Safe Kids Gainesville / Hall County, and the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation (MAG Foundation) have been actively involved in this initiative, as well.
On September 29th over 196 pounds of unwanted and expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications were collected at four Hall County locations. That exceeded the 58 pounds collected in a similar effort in April.
Pointing at the success of those one-day efforts, Mitchell Posey with the Appalachian Drug Task Force said last month that a year-round drop off site was needed. "We don't want people to simply wait for the three or four times that we do this a year and take the chance that they might miss the date."
The first two sites in Hall County are the lobby of the Hall County Sheriff's Office, 610 Main Street, and in the foyer of the Gainesville Justice Center, 701 Queen City Parkway.
Next to receive a drop box could be either Flowery Branch or Oakwood.
JP Banks, Project Coordinator for the Drug Free Coalition of Hall County said, "We're hoping to extend next to south Hall County. We're still working with law enforcement on that."
Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly said at Monday's dedication of the drop box in the Justice Center, "It will be available to our citizens Monday through Friday, from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, so they can come in and drop off anonymously unwanted prescriptions (and) over-the-counter medicines."
"Prescription drugs are considered a gateway drug to other serious and dangerous street drugs. It is crucial that unused, unwanted and expired drugs lurking in people's medicine cabinets do not end up in the wrong hands."
“We feel this is a great partnership to enter into," Kelly added, "to help rid our...community of these unwanted prescriptions, but also to keep them from going into our environment."
“People put them in the trash, their septic system, wash them down the sink so they get into our water system...it (the partnership) also helps our environment.”
Georgia NADDI President Adrienne Baker and Vice-President Bill Vanhoose made the ceremonial “first donation” to the steel drop box.
Chief Kelly was asked whether people could feel at ease bringing their unwanted drugs into the Justice Center with so many uniformed police officers on the grounds.
"Most definitely they can; it's all anonymous. We don't ask for any identification. There won't be any kinds of checks," Kelly responded.
Gesturing towards an overhead security camera Kelly said, "There is a security component that we had to meet. Also (the camera) is here to make sure people don't come in...and take narcotics out of the box."
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG Foundation) sponsored Wednesday's dedication of the drop box at the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
Dr. Jack Chapman, Jr, a Gainesville ophthalmologist and co-chair of the MAG Foundation's "Think About It" campaign, said,”The 'Think About It' campaign was designed to raise awareness and promote a comprehensive drug policy in the state. Our ultimate objective is to eradicate prescription drug abuse and enhance the quality of life in Georgia."
The drop box at the Sheriff's Office will be available from 8:00AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday.
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