The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is letting people drop off their drugs without the risk of an arrest.
The Alachua County Health Promotion and Wellness Coalition partnered with the sheriff’s office and the Gainesville Senior Recreation Center project to give the community a safe place to toss expired or unwanted drugs, said Francellette Garcia, the coalition’s project director.
People can come to the county’s first drug take-back day at from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at one of three designated locations.
Gainesville residents can dump at the Senior Recreation Center, at 5701 NW 34th Blvd. Newberry residents can participate at the Newberry Fire Rescue Station 28, at 310 SW 250 St. Hawthorne residents can give drugs at Hitchcock’s Market, at 6005 US-301.
The process is anonymous, but staff members and deputies will be present to direct the event and make sure it goes smoothly, Garcia said.
Dumping drugs down the drain or flushing them down the toilet can lead to wastewater contamination, which sometimes can’t be reversed, Garcia said.
The event corresponds with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is held on April 27 and allows people to dump unwanted drugs at various locations across the country, Garcia said.
“We are expecting a good turn out because we chose locations that people know and use,” Garcia said.
Pills, liquids and patches can be turned in, Garcia said. This includes Schedule 1 drugs, like heroin, as well as Schedule 2 drugs, like cocaine and Adderall. Fire Rescue Station 28 is equipped to also take in needles, syringes and pumps.
“The goal is to give the community access to places that can handle the need to responsibly dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions,” Garcia said.
After the event, all the boxes will be collected and stored by the sheriff’s office until they will be given to the DEA, she said. The DEA will incinerate the collection at high temperatures and take care of the ashes.
Although most Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs are illegal to possess, the sheriff’s office will not be making arrests if they are turned in because the drop off process is anonymous, said Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
“Our concerns aren’t the illicit substances but more the people who are doing the right thing,” Rhodenizer said.
FILE - This Aug. 15, 2017, file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York.