In the Springfield area alone, 1,995 pounds of medications -- a record -- was collected Saturday, which was a nationally-designated drug take back day. In nearby Baxter County, more than 1,000 pounds were taken in.
Organizers say the events are important because unused or unwanted drugs can pose risks in and outside of our homes.
"Kids can get into them, people start abusing them because they are there," Lt. Kenneth Shaw of the Greene County Sheriff's Office said.
That's why pharmacists, law enforcement officers and community activists work together to get unused or expired prescription drugs out of homes safely.
"We want to keep the medication out of the water supply, out of the landfills out of the reach of children, of seniors," Hy-Vee pharmacists Charles Trebilcock said.
They hope take back events, like several held across Springfield on Saturday, will reduce drug abuse and overdose.
"Approximately 36,000 people overdose each year, so we try to get those out of people's houses," Shaw said.
Improper disposal, by flushing or simply throwing the drugs away, can lead to harmful long-term affects in the environment.
"We rely heavily on the economy and recreation. People love fishing and swimming in our streams, and it's just nice to keep the medicine out of the water way so that we don't affect our aquatic life," Stacey Armstrong, the projects manager for the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, said.
Armstrong said proper disposal helps to keep pharmaceuticals from creating imbalance in the ecosystem.
"If we flush prescriptions or put them in the waterways, that can affect our neighbors below us," Armstrong said. "In the Ozarks, we're very fortunate to have good water quality, but we live on a plateau and we have to think about our neighbors downstream."
Other Disposal Methods
Another drug take-back event will be planned for the fall. Experts say for those who prefer not to wait, small quantities can be safely discarded of through the following methods:
Crush pills into a fine powder
Mix medication, both crushed pills and/or liquid, with kitty litter or coffee grounds
Place mixture into an empty detergent bottle, then dispose of the container in your regular trash bin