By Melissa Garcia
DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Police officers collected thousands of bottles of prescription drugs in Denver Saturday as part of a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
The Drug Enforcement Administration partnered with local law enforcement agencies across the country to collect unused and expired medications.
Officers at Denver Police District 3 took in 515 pounds of prescription meds, an increase of at least 100 pounds more than the previous take-back event.
According to Doug Schepman with the police department, seven drop off locations collected a total of 1,400 pounds of unused and unwanted medications.
Denver residents lined up inside the station lobby to responsibly dispose of their old medications.
“One of them I’ve had for three or four years. I just found it in a drawer, and I thought, ‘Okay, these need to go,’” said Ozlem Akdogan, a Denver resident.
“It’s so much better than just flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash and putting them in the landfill,” said Ben Lombard, who came to District 3 to drop off prescription drugs that had sat unused for years in his medicine cabinet.
“Unfortunately, you seem to accumulate this stuff whether you like to or not,” Lombard said.
Lombard was one of hundreds who brought in a variety of leftover medications, including narcotic pain pills.
According to drug experts, over-prescribed and excess pain pills are contributing to Colorado’s opioid epidemic.
“I’ve had loss in my family and in my neighborhood, and there’s always so many drugs left over,” explained Susan Powers, another Denver resident who participated in the drug take-back event.
When kids, family members, or other home visitors get their hands on leftover narcotics, experimentation can lead to addiction.
“Having them around the house could lead to other people that don’t need them deciding to try them out. And that also could lead to problems,” said Mike Reichardt, a sergeant at Denver Police District 3.
Reichardt said that citizens who properly dispose of prescription medications help keep drugs off the streets.
District 3 officers turned the drugs over to the Drug Enforcement Agency for incineration.
For people who missed the take-back event, there are a handful of authorized locations that dispose of unused prescription drugs year-round.
Find a list of authorized prescription drug take-back sites near you at apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch