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Take it to the box program offered

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening drops a bottle of unwanted prescription pills into the new disposal box at the Prairie Justice Center.

WORTHINGTON -- Approximately 70 percent of the people who take pain medications illegally got them from a family member's medicine chest or cupboard, studies suggest.

The Take it to the Box program promotes the safe disposal of both prescription and over-the-counter medications when they are no longer needed.

Recently, a disposal box was installed at the Prairie Justice Center, giving the citizens of Nobles County a place to safely empty out their medicine chests.

"I've been wanting to get this program going for quite some time now," said Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening. "It took some time to get the paperwork done through the state."

Each day, more than 2,500 teens nationwide use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, Wilkening said.

"The Nobles County Sheriff's Office is offering citizens a hassle-free way to get rid of prescription and non-prescription medications," he said.

The box is right inside the main entrance of the Prairie Justice Center and available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Before dropping medication bottles into the slot, names or prescription numbers should be crossed off with a heavy marker or removed.

"Leave the information about what kind of medication is inside on the bottle if possible," Wilkening said. "Leave the pills in the container and drop it into the box."

Liquid medications are also accepted, but Wilkening asks citizens to make sure caps are tight and to put the bottle in a small zip bag to prevent leakage.

This isn't for pharmacies to use -- just private citizens," he said. "Also, no needles, no hypodermics."

The box is locked so objects placed inside are inaccessible, and will be emptied out each day. The contents will be locked into the department's evidence room until the medications are brought to a licensed incinerator for disposal.

According to the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT), studies have found that improper disposal of medications is having an impact on the environment. Some medications are considered hazardous waste, and active pharmaceutical compounds are entering groundwater systems when drugs are dumped into septic and sewer systems or landfills. The compounds have the potential to harm plants, wildlife and humans.

"This is really the safest way to get rid of unneeded medications," Wilkening said. "Take the opportunity to clean out that medicine chest and drop the medicines off here."

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettschreck can be reached at