The Med Return box placed inside the lobby of the Sandy Springs Police Department.

Sandy Springs Police in August started a pill drop-off program and the public response has been impressive, Police Chief Ken DeSimone said.

The green MedReturn box located inside police headquarters 7840 Roswell Rd, Suite 301, fills up each week, DeSimone said.

The program is intended to reduce prescription drug abuse, particularly among teenagers. According to a press release announcing the program, the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found more than 6 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Among youth who are 12 to 17 years old, 7.4 percent report non-medical use of prescription drugs, the press release says.

The service is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. DeSimone said the department wanted to place the box outside to offer round-the-clock drop-off opportunities, but couldn’t get approval for that plan.

Even with limited access, the city takes in quite a haul, DeSimone said.

“I didn’t think we’d have as much the response,” he said. “It has been so great. It’s filling up every week.”

DeSimone said Crime Prevention Officer Larry Jacobs came up with the idea, inspired by stories of heartache caused by misuse of prescription drugs.

DeSimone said getting unneeded drugs out of the house cuts off teenagers from one of their main suppliers: the medicine cabinet.

“Teenage kids are getting in there and getting narcotic medications that you may have needed for shoulder surgery and knee surgery,” DeSimone said. “We dispose of it properly through incineration.”

Accepted medications include: Prescription, prescriptions patches, medications, prescription ointments, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, samples and pet medications.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com