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Butler County police stations add drug drop boxes

| Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 6:00 p.m.

Misuse of prescription drugs can lead to abuse of illegal drugs, Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger said, and officials hope a new drug collection program will help stop that.

“We're trying to get unused, unwanted medications off the street in a safe manner,” Goldinger said. “People are abusing it. They're taking medication that's not theirs, they're using it or selling it, and get addicted.”

A $100,000 federal grant is paying for 250 prescription drug drop boxes throughout the state in an effort guided by Pennsylvania district attorneys, local police and the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Organizers installed seven drop-off points in Butler County at police stations in Cranberry, Butler, Butler Township, Slippery Rock, Saxonburg and Penn and in the lobby of the Butler County Prison.

“We tried to have them situated as best as we could so it was convenient for everybody,” Goldinger said. “The boxes had to be in a secure location.”

An unrelated event sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in October to collect unwanted medications, generated a greater response than expected, Cranberry Public Safety Director Jeff Schueler said.

“People just don't know what to do with unwanted drugs,” Schueler said.

He added that the collection box in the police station fit well with the township's philosophy of recycling and keeping water supplies clean.

Goldinger said flushing old medications is “the worst thing to do” because it can pollute the water supply.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society recommends that anyone dropping off medications scratch off personal information on bottles. Also, the society said, if someone is worried about safety, he or she should put the drugs in a bag that's not transparent to hide what they're carrying, and go with someone when dropping off the drugs.

Butler County detectives will collect and incinerate the medications, just as narcotics and other seized evidence in criminal cases is destroyed, Goldinger said.

“It's a no-lose situation,” Goldinger said. “You can't go wrong with this. Even if it's not used a lot, but people will take their medication there to get them off the street.”

Most prescription and over-the-counter medications can be dropped into the secure boxes. Needles, inhalers, aerosols, thermometers and medical wastes won't be accepted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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