Cleaning out medicine cabinets can save lives

Area police offering safe disposal of unused prescriptions

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Image 2Multiple reasons exist to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., area law-enforcement officials say.

Keeping expired or unused drugs in medicine cabinets can make homes a burglary target and also increase the risk that an older patient may become confused and take the wrong pill, officials say. In addition, studies have shown that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.

And if you need another motivation: The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) points that the usual methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards. The drugs turned in at collection sites are placed in special containers and delivered to a main DEA site for proper disposal.

Area collection sites will include the Kennett Square Police Department, the New Garden Township Police Department, which will be set up at the New Garden Shopping Center, 350 Scarlet Rd.;  and the East Fallowfield Township Police Department on Strasburg Road.

Calling prescription drug abuse “the fastest-growing epidemic in the country,” Kennett Square Police Chief Edward Zunino said his department has participated ever since the twice-a-year program began in 2010. He said the collection amounts have varied from 27 to 58 pounds of medicine.

“Unfortunately, a lot of young people who start abusing prescription drugs get them initially out of a relative’s medicine cabinet,” Zunino said.   The program gives residents “a safe and efficient way to dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs,” he said.

The 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs than the number of those who regularly used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined, the DEA website said.   That same study revealed more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet, the website said.

 During the first collection event in 2010, over 240,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected nationwide.   The most recent collection event in April 2013 netted 742,497 pounds nationwide in over 5,000 collection sites.

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