Isanti County now offers a safe place for residents to dispose of prescription drugs that are no longer needed.
The Isanti County Sheriff’s Office now has a prescription drug drop box housed in the main lobby of the Sheriff’s Office located at 509 18th Ave. SW, Cambridge. The program will be maintained through a partnership with Cambridge Medical Center, part of Allina Health.
Isanti County Chief Deputy Chris Caulk explained the Sheriff’s Office first began investigating a drug take-back program in 2008-2009, under the leadership of then Sheriff Russ Monson and Chief Deputy Bill Guenther. However, it was deemed too expensive to implement at that time, and the prescriptions would have needed to been transported to Chicago with at least two people.
Caulk said the program is now more affordable and grant funding helped with the purchase of the box. Prescriptions will be transported to Alexandria in a government vehicle under the supervision of two people where they will be disposed.
Caulk said the prescriptions should be brought in containers with the names blacked out. The box is securely attached to the wall, under video surveillance and open 24/7. He said there are internal controls in place, and only law enforcement has access to the box.
“The importance of this prescription drug box can be driven home by a recent statistic that states four out of five heroin addictions started with prescription drugs,” Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad said. “If we can eliminate just one less pill, we can lessen the risk of finding them in the hands of our kids and our students. The working relationship the Isanti County Attorney’s Office has with the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Allina Health, and the community, will be a benefit for years to come. We appreciate the support we’ve received for this prescription drug box program.”
Edblad sees issues with chemical dependency in both children and adults.
“Both in the criminal justice adult court and juvenile court we see chemical dependency commitments due to prescription drugs and leading to heroin,” Edblad said. “If we can prevent one pill from being abused and saving one person’s life, it’s worth the whole effort.”
Items not allowed in the drug drop box include garbage; personal care products such as lotions or shampoos; sharps; mercury thermometers or other mercury containing devices; bio-hazardous waste, including items contaminated with body fluids; and chemotherapy or radioactive waste (contact your hospital or clinic and return unused medications of this nature to them).
Gary Shaw, president of Cambridge Medical Center, said Allina Health is committed to supporting the community.
“When we held our community engagement groups and strategies, we came up with 10 focuses through community engagement, and one of them was changing the health of the population we serve,” Shaw said. “Part of that was giving the community a place to safely dispose of their prescription drugs.”
Nicki Klanderud, manager of community engagement with Cambridge Medical Center, said the organization’s commitment to the program is part of its mission.
“Last year we did a community health needs assessment and one of our focuses is on drug and alcohol prevention, and this ties into that vision really well,” Klanderud said. “Last November we held a forum with an expert panel and a key concern was what to do with leftover prescriptions. It brought some awareness that we need to do something about the people looking to get their hands on these prescriptions to use in an abusive way. Supporting this prescription drug drop box program ties in with our commitment to help support the community.”
Caulk said the prescription drug box program is something everyone in the community can benefit from.
“This targets a person who is 9 years old up to someone who is 90 years old,” Caulk said. “Everyone needs prescribed medications at some point. This will really be beneficial with the senior communities who worry what to do with their medications, especially if they have grandchildren coming around. This will be a nice opportunity for people to get rid of some prescription drugs they may have lying around that they no longer need.”
For further questions regarding the prescription drug box program, contact Caulk at 763-689-2141.