WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — An event is being hosted by the United Regional Health Care System aimed at preventing drug-related accidents and abuse and keeping Texoma safe.

United Regional will host a Drug Take Back event on Friday, October 20, 2023, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., in the circle driveway of the patient charge parking lot of the emergency room, located just off 11th Street in Wichita Falls.

Residents of Wichita Falls and the surrounding area are encouraged to drop off any potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs so they can be safely disposed of. The service is free of charge and is intended to help keep the community safe.

Friday’s event will mark the second Drug Take Back event hosted by United Regional this year. The healthcare provider also hosted a Drug Take Back event in April 2023.

Laura Pressler, Injury Prevention Outreach Coordinator with United Regional, said they’ve been holding the events for several years now, and so far, they’ve gone a long way in making the community a little bit safer.

“This year in the spring, we had an event, and we took in over 300 pounds of medications and over 90 ounces of liquid narcotics,” Pressler said. “In the last several years, I would say that we’ve probably taken in through all of our projects approximately over 1,000 pounds of medications and sharps and things like that.”

Pressler said officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department will be on the scene to help properly dispose of narcotics, but there’s no need for citizens to be concerned that they’ll face any kind of punishment or ridicule if they turn in narcotics during this event.

“It’s completely anonymous, so nobody’s going to get in trouble, we don’t ask questions, we just take the medications,” Pressler said. “We make sure to protect your privacy as well by marking off all the names on the labels and things like that.”

Pressler said the Drug Take Back Program is the best way for residents of Wichita Falls and the surrounding area to dispose of unwanted medications for multiple reasons.

“The city [of Wichita Falls] really encourages people not to flush those types of medicines down the sewer system,” Pressler said. “It can cause problems with our sewer system. And also, you don’t want to put it in the dumps and the landfills because it could fall into the wrong hands.”

It’s not just narcotics and expired prescriptions that can be turned in during the event. Pressler said inhalers, injectables, needles, syringes, and over-the-counter medications can be turned in during the Drug Take Back event to ensure they’re disposed of properly.

“It doesn’t have to necessarily be a narcotic that can cause a problem if it gets into the hands of children,” Pressler said. “Over-the-counter medications are just as dangerous, so to have that kind of medication secured at your home is important, but if you’re not using it, it’s best to dispose of it, and this is the best way to do that.”

In addition, Pressler said thanks to the Wichita Falls Founder Lion’s Club, residents can also drop off broken or unused glass to be recycled and worn by individuals around the world.

Those who drop off their unused, unwanted, or expired medications on Friday won’t even have to get out of their vehicle. A staff member from United Regional will come to the vehicle and take the medications. A goody bag will be given to all participants on Friday.