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Unused prescription drugs being collected

| Friday, April 25, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

Monongahela Valley Hospital will be the Mid-Mon Valley's focal point for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

Carroll Township police will collect unused prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the circular driveway area outside of the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.

Carroll Township Police Chief Paul Brand said participants can remain in their cars and hand unwanted drugs to the police officers through their windows.

“I fully support this program … it's shocking to me how many drugs are turned in,” Brand said. “We have a high-profile central location and it's easy for people to come in.”

Police will not request identification for anyone dropping off items. Needles and syringes will not be accepted due to the potential hazard posed by blood-borne diseases. Participants should remove any personal information from the bottles or packages.

Afterwards, officers will seal the boxes containing the collected medicine and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration will safely dispose of them.

Brand said he decided to partner with the hospital this year after seeing the potential for the program three years ago at the Carroll Township Fire Department.

“We had kind of a light turnout, but I saw that day there was a potential to make this thing bigger,” Brand said. “It was a good idea to partner with Mon Valley Hospital and use their resources to make it happen.”

At the most recent Drug Take Back Day in October 2013, the DEA collected 324 tons of prescription medications at more than 5,683 locations in the United States.

Brand said the fact prescription drugs can be a gateway to heroin addiction is a key factor in his involvement with the program. A 2011 federal study found 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, which often included taking the pills from family medicine cabinet.

“It's in the front of my mind with this. Opiate-based narcotics are highly addictive and a fast way to heroin,” Brand said. “Many times, they're prescribed for a person following surgery and they're left around. And many times we find they get into the wrong hands of family members. Once that happens, and there's an addiction problem, it's difficult to beat.”

Brand cited a high volume of prescription drugs that have been deposited this past year into drop boxes located at police stations around the Mon Valley, including Carroll Township, Monongahela and California.

California police Chief Rick Encapera said Thursday he plans on bringing up “significant amount” of prescription drugs to the hospital's drop off point Saturday.

“At first, I was (cynical) too, but this program has definitely been effective from a law enforcement standpoint,” Brand said. “The more drugs we can take back, the more abuse we can potentially prevent.”

Mid-Mon Valley residents can also drop off unwatned prescription drugs to Elizabeth Township police from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the township municipal building, 522 Rock Run Road.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.