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Bluff City fights prescription drug problem

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:04:54 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 11 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Sullivan County ahead of a national initiative trying to put a drop-off box in all law enforcement agencies by the spring of 2014.

BLUFF CITY, Tenn. -

Sullivan County is ahead of a national initiative trying to put a drop-off box in all law enforcement agencies by the spring of 2014.

There are 94 narcotic pills prescribed for every person over the age of 11 in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

So what happens to all of that unused medication? Sullivan County is trying to collect it in a safe way before the drugs fall into the wrong hands.

Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition coordinator Alice McCaffrey told us you should get prescription drugs out of your home as soon as you can. "Our biggest concern truly was friends and family getting into the cabinets," she said.

On Thursday, she recognized the Bluff City Police Department for finding and collecting the drugs. They now have a drug drop-off box.

McCaffrey told us she is excited because Bluff City was the last law enforcement office in Sullivan County that needed a box. It puts them ahead of a national initiative trying to put a box in all law enforcement agencies by the spring of 2014. "It was something we wanted to get done as fast as we could," McCaffrey said.

One reason it's easier to accomplish this in Sullivan County --Eastman Chemical Company is nearby. "We were lucky because we have Eastman," said McCaffrey. "They have a great incinerator. That's the problem statewide, there's nowhere to get the drugs incinerated."

The drop-off box can be accessed 24 hours a day at the Bluff City Police Department.

Be careful what you put in it, though -- "You should not leave needles on any drugs that you're dropping if you haven't taken them off already," McCaffrey said. "Just think about the person who has to empty the box," McCaffrey said.

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office donated their old unit to Bluff City since they had to get a bigger one.

Kingsport police have collected more than 2,000 pounds of drugs between September 2010 and June 2013.

You can take your leftover prescription  medications to the Bluff City Police Department, Bristol Tennessee Police Department, Kingsport Police Department, and the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.

We called three pharmacies on Saturday.

A pharmacist at Brookside Pharmacy in Kingsport told us you can also get rid of your drugs by grinding them down and mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter.

McCaffrey agreed that is a good idea but she said there are problems disposing of your drugs this way. "The problems people see with these alternate ways to dispose of these things is they go to the landfills and eventually the water system," she said.

If you cannot make it to a drop box in the next two weeks to dispose of your prescription medications, there will be a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 26. On that day you can bring your drugs to the parking lot of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department or the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office for collection.