To better help protect the community, the Soldotna Police Department has initiated a program which allows Soldotna area residents to bring unused prescription drugs to the police station for safe disposal. "Sometime patients suffer drug reactions which make it impossible for them to use an entire prescription, or maybe they just don't need as many pills as they received." says Soldotna Chief of Police John Lucking. "Keeping the drugs creates a danger to children in the home, especially if the drugs are narcotics, but disposing of them improperly can also create a serious environmental problem. We are encouraging people to bring the drugs to the police station so that we can be sure that they are disposed of properly."
Misuse of drugs prescribed to others is a growing problem among youth nationwide, and leftover prescriptions are sometimes being shared or sold on the street. Soldotna Police officers feel this program will help to remove some of those drugs from circulation, as well as helping to reduce the risk of young children finding them and being accidentally poisoned. In addition to protecting children and teens from misappropriating the drugs, Lucking also sees the program as something good for the environment. "While it has been a common place practice to flush excess prescription drugs down the toilet and into sewers or septic systems, this is an act which has been shown to have the potential to contaminate ground water supplies. Being a river city, we have a special appreciation for the importance of keeping our water free of contaminants. It could be an environmental disaster if they would find their way into our beautiful Kenai River and local streams. By giving the public a safe place to dispose of unwanted drugs, we think we are extending the way that we protect and serve our community into a new dimension," said Lucking.
Last year on September 25th the Soldotna police joined other law enforcement agencies across the nation in facilitating a single day drug turn-back event. "The event was so successful," said Lucking "that it was quickly apparent that a need existed to expand the idea. We began to work with the Soldotna Professional Pharmacy to coordinate efforts to get unneeded pharmaceuticals off the streets."
According to Soldotna Law Enforcement Officials, there have been incidents of breaking and entering locally where the motivation has been to steel prescription narcotics. "If they know it's there, they may break in to find it and we want to keep these medicines off the streets. So partnering with Soldotna Professional Pharmacy to keep these medications off the streets has many positive aspects including protecting children who might get into the leftover drugs, to reducing crime and helping the environment," added SPD Sgt. Duane Kant.
The Central Peninsula Hospital Foundation joined the effort, and supported the police project by providing the funds needed to purchase a secure drop box which has been mounted in the lobby of the Soldotna police station. Any unneeded prescription drugs can be brought to the police station during business hours and deposited anonymously in the special drop box. No questions will be asked as to the origin of the drugs. Persons with unwanted over-the-counter drug products that may also be toxic to the environment can bring those to Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, which is providing a complementary community service by collecting those uncontrolled substances and insuring their proper disposal.
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