Nonprofit places drug disposal drop-boxes across county

GREENFIELD – Police departments across Hancock County now have drug disposal boxes, where residents can safely discard their unused prescriptions, a program law enforcement officials say helps cut down on crime and combats drug addiction.

Hancock County Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse has given five county law enforcement agencies prescription drug drop-boxes, which have been placed inside police stations across the county, giving residents six sites to safely dispose of medications.

Like a post office mailbox, the drug drop-boxes safely and securely hold unwanted pills and tablets — hot commodities among thieves looking to feed drug habits or teens looking to experiment, officials say.

The boxes — about $500 apiece — are secured in place, so they can’t be stolen, and a person putting medication into the box can’t reach in and take anything else out.

Placing more drug drop-boxes in the county comes as part of the area’s continued fight against heroin and opioid use, officials said. As police kick up their drug enforcement efforts, and area local nonprofits fight for funding to further addiction treatment services, residents need to do their part, as well, by making sure their leftover painkillers don’t fall into the wrong hands, police said.

The Greenfield Police Department long has had prescription drug drop-box, and the Shirley Police Department added one to its town hall late last year. But those two locations – nearly 20 miles apart — were the only places county residents could properly dispose of their old medications, said Tim Retherford, the director of NASA.

That left nearly every corner of the county unserved, which likely led to prescription pills just sitting in medicine cabinets, Retherford said. The closest disposal sites outside of the county were in Fishers and Anderson.

Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse started hosting quarterly drug take-back events in 2011, inviting residents to bring their unused prescription medications to a single site in Greenfield, where volunteers would then properly dispose of them.

At each event, there were always residents who would bring bags full of old pill bottles, Retherford said — signaling to NASA leaders more drop-off sites were needed locally.

Last week, the organization placed boxes in the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, McCordsville, New Palestine and Cumberland police departments, ensuring residents have six places to toss old drugs, he said.

The boxes will be emptied regularly by a NASA volunteer; the contents will be taken to Covanta and incinerated, he said.

Drug drop-boxes become a means of fighting opioid use across the country about five years ago, said Charlie Cichon, executive director of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

The group, a nonprofit organization of law enforcement and healthcare professionals, maintains a map of the more than 3,000 boxes in communities across the United States, giving people directions to the disposal site nearest to their home in an effort to combat opioid drug abuse, Cichon said.

Keeping prescription drugs inside home medicine cabinets can be dangerous, Hancock County Sheriff’s Maj. Brad Burkhart said.

Like valuables, medications — particularly prescription painkillers — are among the things thieves search for when burglarizing a home. Curious teenagers, looking to impress their friends, can be tempted to swipe pills from their parents, grandparents or other adults. Young children, too, can mistakenly consume medicines that would leave them sick, he said.

Find a drop box

Prescription drug drop boxes are now available at law enforcement agencies across the county. The sites give residents 24/7 access to properly dispose of their unused medications. Here are the locations:

Hancock County Sheriff’s Department: 123 E. Main St., Greenfield

Greenfield Police Department: 116 S State St., Greenfield

McCordsville Police Department: 6280 W. County Road 800N, McCordsville

New Palestine Police Department: 42 E. Main St., New Palestine

Cumberland Police Department: 11501 E. Washington St., Cumberland

Shirley Police Department: 409 S. Main St., Shirley

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.