ELYRIA — The Lorain County Drug Task Force collected 4,188 pounds of medication during the past six months — the most it has collected through its drug take-back program, according to Lorain County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh.
The task force held its 18th drug take-back day Saturday, which coincided with the national Operation Medicine Cabinet. The county program started in November 2008, before the national program, through a partnership with the Westside Enforcement Bureau, Cavanaugh said. Those first few years, the program collected 400 to 500 pounds.
“We’re averaging (about 4,000 pounds) every time we pick it up now, so it’s really increased over the years, and (the) idea behind it is any medication that’s left in the house, we certainly don’t want them diverted in the streets for illegal sale or consumption,” Cavanaugh said.
They also don’t want these medications to end up in the water system, he said. According to Detective Greg Mehling, also on the Lorain County Drug Task Force, studies were finding traces of oxycodone in fish in the Hudson River.
“A lot of this stuff is not dangerous from an abuse standpoint, but you probably don’t want it dumped down the toilet into the water supply,” Mehling said. “What’s flushed today is what you’ll drink next week.”
The Drug Task Force works with the DEA to hold collections every six months, with drop boxes at police stations across the county. People can drop off any over-the-counter medication or prescription, and some locations have sharps containers as well. While medication may not be a scheduled narcotic, it can pose harm when broken down chemically, Cavanaugh said.
“You’d be surprised the different compounds, some of the elements within those compounds can be removed as chemicals and be put to other things, precursors for illegal labs,” Cavanaugh said. “It just depends on what that product is. But this is opened up to any type of over-the-counter or prescription drug. We get some pretty high-potent narcotics, especially when you have cancer patients (there’s) a lot of prescriptions left when someone passes away.”
What was collected Saturday will be taken by DEA agents to Ross Incineration Services next week.
Mehling, who is retiring at the end of next month, has helped run the take-back program since its inception and is surprised by the amount of medication it brings in.
“It just amazed me after about two of these, how it just took off … I think we’re doing some good and if we can help the citizens out, we’re happy to do it,” he said.