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Gallatin County law enforcement takes steps to cut down on prescription drug abuse

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Oct 26 2013 05:07:03 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Gallatin County law enforcement has teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Administration for a national initiative to keep prescription drugs out of our waterways, out of the hands of children and away from those who might abuse them.

Missouri River Drug Task Force Commander Jake Wagner and Bozeman Police Captain Mark Johnson combine prescription drugs from their two drop-off spots.

"It seems to be kind of that emerging problem," says Wagner.

Wagner tells us prescription drugs are likely their greatest issue when it comes to drug use and abuse within the state and nationwide.

"Prescription drugs are, I guess, the most readily accessible because it comes from our medicine cabinets," explains Wagner.

That's why Wagner says the sooner you can dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs, the better.

During Saturday's drug take-back event from 10a and 2p, he tells us he's seen four to five people every half hour. Once folks turn in their pills, Wagner is tasked with removing the pills from their bottles and placing them into small, plastic baggies, blacking out the names on the bottles for privacy purposes.

Once the pills are sorted, a DEA agent will pick up the pills and take them to Salt Lake City where they will be incinerated.

Wagner says it's been relatively slow but credits fewer folks, in part, to bins he says are accessible to the community all the time.

"It's confidential. They just come to the Law and Justice Center either here or the police substation on Rouse," says Wagner.

Between those two bins, Wagner says they average close to fifty pounds a month. He says the pills are stored in a safe location until they're taken to an incinerator with special certifications to be burned. That's because there are federal guidelines as to what can be burned.

"Anything that's combustible that will explode, things like inhalers. Liquids are very tough to deal with just because we end up with a heck of a mess when they're not capped correctly so, we don't want liquids, either. Lastly, we don't want needles or any cancer medications because of the toxicity," Wagner explains.

If you need to dispose of items like those, Wagner says you can contact the Missouri River Drug Task for or take them to environmental services at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.