The dusty little bottle of unused vitamins sitting in your cupboard may have been there so long it feels like another member of the family, but besides being a health hazard, it could be dangerous. To provide locals a safe way to dispose of over-the-counter and prescription medicines, the El Campo Police department has reopened its bi-annual National Medication Take Back program.

El Campo’s version of the program began in 2014, with drop offs being collected twice per year, in the spring and fall. Since then, around 867 pounds of medication have been dropped off, with 152 pounds gathered in 2019 alone.

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, ECPD and police departments across the country weren’t able to hold the drive in April as planned.

“I do expect and hope for more drop offs because there wasn’t one in the spring,” Cpl. Mark Biskup said. “I have had citizens ask me repeatedly when and where we are going to host another drop off, so that just tells me how successfully the program works.”

As many as 9.9 million people in the U.S. have abused prescription drugs, often taken from friends’ or family members’ medicine cabinets, as of 2018, according to The Drug Enforcement Agency. In response to this issue, the DEA created the Take Back program.

The program “removes potentially dangerous drugs from households where a young child could get their hands on it and accidentally overdose,” Biskup said. “For most adults, taking one hydrocodone pill can be easy to handle. A seven-year-old taking two or three hydrocodone pills at one time, I feel could be very dangerous, if not deadly.”

Medication can be dropped off at any time or day at the El Campo Public Safety building in a secure bin located in the lobby.

“No questions asked, and no paperwork,” Biskup said in an email.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications for adults, children and animals are accepted, as well as vitamins and prescription patches and ointments. New to this year’s program, vape pens are now being accepted, but the batteries must be removed before drop off.

ECPD cannot accept needles, aerosol cans, inhalers, thermometers and hydrogen peroxide.

Medication drop-off opened at 8 a.m. on Sept. 14 at the El Campo Public Safety building, 1011 West Loop, and runs through 5 p.m. Oct. 24. For more information about the program, or assistance when dropping off medication, call ECPD at 979-543-5311.

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