When police find illicit drugs in a home, the likelihood that they will also find prescription drugs is high. And prescription drugs can be as harmful to a child as crack, pot or meth.
"A child getting their hands on (prescription drugs), ingesting that that is just dangerous," said Det. Sadie Weekley, with the Marshalltown Police Department.
Weekley will be on hand for an annual drug disposal put on by the Marshall County Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Alliance and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The collection will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Marshall County Courthouse's horseshoe drive.
Hundreds of prescription pill bottles, filled with unwanted drugs, line this table in this file photo. The Drug Endangered Alliance and Marshalltown Police Department will again collect unwanted prescriptions at the Marshall County Courthouse from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Those with prescription drugs to get rid of can drop them off no questions asked. If privacy is a concern, people can put all the prescriptions in a plastic bag or scratch the names off the labels. The goal is not to arrest people, but to ensure the drugs aren't being used illegally, Weekley said.
"We want to get them off the streets so they aren't being sold or being used by others illegally," said Nikki Hartwig, coordinator for the DEC Alliance program. "We will take it however they give it to us."
The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, an amendment of the Controlled Substance Act, allows for those lawfully in possession of controlled substances to hand over those drugs to an authorized official without registration.
If You Go...
WHAT: Prescription drug dropoff
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Marshall County Courthouse, Horseshoe Drive, 1 E. Main St
Children often steal the drugs from parents or grandparents, Weekley said.
Between 2002 and 2007, the Federal Interagency Task Force for Drug Endangered Children found that 3 percent of children lived in homes where at least one parent abused or was dependent on illicit drugs. Those living in foster care were far more likely to be exposed to such drugs.
Many people, Hartwig said, are unaware how properly to dispose of unused prescription drugs. Last year, the DEC Alliance program collected 62 pounds of prescription drugs. People can also bring their pet medications for disposal.
Part of the program's success, Hartwig said, is how straightforward it is.
"It's such a simple thing to do," Hartwig said.
The DEC Alliance is part of Marshall County Child Abuse Prevention Services.