WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office will be taking part Saturday in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day when people can drop off unused prescription medication at various places throughout the country.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, those wishing to anonymously get rid of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications will be able to do so in a drop box located in the lobby of the Kandiyohi County Law Enforcement Center at 2201 23rd St. N.E. in Willmar.

Kandiyohi County Law Enforcement Center

Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo
Kandiyohi County Law Enforcement Center Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

The program was started in 2010 in response to an increase in opioid overdose deaths, according to Drug Enforcement Administration public information officer Emily Murray.

She said the DEA encourages people to look through their medicine cabinets and drawers for any unwanted medications.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

"If it's not something you're using, if it's unwanted, unused or it's expired, then we're just encouraging people to collect all those prescription medications and take them to one of the collection drop-off sites that are literally all across the country," Murray said.

The LEC in Willmar is one of 79 sites across Minnesota participating in the program Saturday. Collection sites may be found online at takebackday.dea.gov.

To date, Minnesotans have discarded nearly 104 tons of medications through the decade-long span of the program, with 18,000 pounds of that coming from Kandiyohi County.

"This (day) takes those prescriptions out of circulation so they cannot be stolen, abused, or polluting our water systems," Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Detective Sergeant Kent Bauman wrote in an email.

While the day is designed for dropping off prescription drugs, people may also drop off illegal drugs as well, something Murray said she hopes people would also do.

Bauman wrote that anyone dropping off illegal drugs should turn them over to a licensed officer who would enter them into evidence along with asking some questions.

The day is part of a broader outreach to address prescription overdoses, according to Murray, who said the DEA's biggest push comes in October during Red Ribbon Week, a week designed to educate the public on the dangers of drug use.

"We try to get out into the community as much as possible," Murray said.

Part of that outreach includes educating school children about the dangers of taking pills that aren't yours, telling them that if they don't see their name on a prescription medication, they shouldn't take them.

"We just start with a simple message there to try and create awareness so that there's not a misunderstanding that it is OK to take someone else's medication if your name isn't on it," Murray said.