Disposing of unused medication now will be less of a pill in Naperville.
The city unveiled new drop boxes Tuesday that allow residents to get rid of drugs in 11 locations, most of which are available around the clock.
"Unused or expired medication that doesn't get disposed of properly can sit around and be appealing to youth who may consider experimenting with these drugs," fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said. "It can lead to prescription drug abuse and be a gateway to harsher forms of drug abuse."
Some have connected the rising use of heroin to prescription drug addiction. Heroin, in particular, has been a growing problem in the suburbs due to its accessibility and low cost. Last year, there were at least 12 heroin-related overdoses in Naperville and three deaths, according to Brian Cunningham, deputy police chief for the Investigations Division.
"When people dispose of these medications by flushing them down the toilet they run the risk of polluting the water with these medicines," he said.
The idea for the drop boxes came from Naperville resident Sam Smith, who took it to Councilman Steve Chirico.
"I thank you very much for being creative, thinking outside of the box or in this case inside of the box," Chirico said during the unveiling.
Smith, an attorney and board member of nonprofit NaperBridge, said he was inspired by the attention in recent years to people overdosing on prescription drugs and heroin.
"I just rationalized in my own mind people were reluctant to get rid of their prescription drugs because there was no convenient way of doing it," he said. "So I tried to reduce the barriers and create more convenient ways."
People can drop off medications outside any of the city's 10 fire stations 24 hours a day. If the prescription bottles don't fit in the boxes, they can deposit the pills alone, officials said. The drugs will be sent to the city's household hazardous waste facility and then incinerated.
There also is a larger drop box in the Police Department lobby, 1350 Aurora Ave., which is available between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also will be open as part of a national initiative from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday.
Contents from the police box will be sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Those dropping off medications are anonymous. No needles or syringes will be accepted at any of the boxes.
Officials said the police box cost about $800 and each of the fire station boxes cost about $150.
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