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Local law enforcement collaborate to combat prescription drug abuse

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Pictured is the prescription drug drop box in the lobby of the Marshalltown Police Department, 22 N. Center St. The unit, which was installed approximately two and one-half years ago, resembles a mail box and is available for use anonymously 24/7 by area residents.

A prescription medicine drop box installed approximately two and one-half years ago to combat prescription drug abuse has proven to be a major success.

The Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force, in conjunction with the Marshalltown Police Department, installed the box in the lobby of police headquarters, 22 N. Center St., as a safe, anonymous way for residents to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs 24/7.

Contact with civilian or police personnel is not required.

It was installed at the MPD due to its central location in Marshall County.

James Gibson of the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force previously told the Times-Republican the box  would prove to be an extremely valuable resource.

“Our main focus is keeping them (prescription drugs) away from kids,” Gibson said. “A lot of kids these days, if they get drugs, it’s from a family member’s or friend’s medicine cabinet. We would like parents, grandparents and others to  go through and see if they have meds they aren’t using. If they have them, bring them to the MPD box and we’ll get rid of them in a safe way.”

The box is checked daily and contents collected and prepared for disposal that is eco-friendly and in accordance with federal and state law.

In November, 37 pounds of prescriptions were removed, said Capt. Mike Hanken of the MPD.

“The box is used a lot,” he said. “It has proven to be an asset in combating prescription drug abuse.”

Residents who wish to use the box must remove labels from prescription bottles before disposal to help protect the identity and personal health information of the prescription holder, Gibson said.

Bottle caps must be secured. Needles, liquid, biohazard items and trash are not allowed.

In 2014, the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force applied for and received a grant from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators to acquire the box.

“That program was funded through Endo Pharmaceuticals, a grant that addresses vital public health and safety issues by preventing the misuse of prescription drugs,” said Gibson.

Hanken said Gibson and team have been successful in securing another grant and a second box will be installed at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office at a yet to be determined date.

Another local partner in the war against drugs is the Substance Abuse and Treatment Unit of Central Iowa.

SATUCI has a long history of working with local law enforcement in offering intervention services to those suffering from substance abuse issues.

SATUCI is a not-for-profit, state-funded, community based agency which has provided substance abuse prevention and treatment services to Hardin, Marshall, Tama and Poweshiek residents since 1980. It is headquartered in Marshalltown.

Anyone seeking help or advice regarding substance abuse issues, should contact SATUCI at 641-752-5421.

Questions regarding the prescription drug drop box can be directed to the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force, 641-754-6392.

For more information and resources on drug abuse visit http://www.drugfree.org

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