Drop the Drugs

Published Oct 23, 2013 at 5:16 am (Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm)

O ne of the biggest problems facing those who are trying to curtail illegal drug use is the easy accessibility of prescriptions in the family medicine cabinet.

What may have been prescribed as a painkiller for a legitimate toothache, a badly injured bone or post-surgery, can quickly be forgotten when the pain subsides.

But the pills sit in the medicine cabinet, accessible for anyone tall enough to reach the cabinet. Prescription medicine can be deadly and needs to be disposed of properly and promptly. The results can be disastrous for young children, or even the elderly whose minds are beginning to slip and forget he or she no longer needs or takes the medication. Children and the elderly can be the innocent victims of storing unwanted prescriptions.

Then, there are the drug addicts who will do just about anything to get a fix. Opening the medicine cabinet is a quick and inexpensive way to achieve a high.

Before Take Back Drugs, the easiest way to keep prescriptions out of the wrong hands, was to flush the unwanted medication down the toilet. Unfortunately, the pills made it to the public water system and that is not a good thing.

Take Back Drugs is a safe, free way to dispose of the medication without any adverse effects.

On Oct. 26, several area police departments will take part in a collection from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. where, no questions asked, residents may place plastic bags of the unwanted, expired and unused prescriptions or over-the-counter items in a large cardboard box at locations throughout the South Hills. The only thing not accepted is needles, including EpiPens. That is for obvious reasons. Police officers will be at the drop sites, but no one will ask names or the reason the medication is being relinquished.

And to ensure even more privacy, those taking the drugs for disposal are asked to take the pills out of the prescription bottle. Mixing of several types of pills in a plastic bag is not only acceptable, but is encouraged.

After the medications are collected in the big boxes, employees of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency will retrieve the boxes and take everything for proper disposal.

The collection program is held twice a year, once usually in late April and again in late October. There are no questions and no charge.

At other times of the year, several local police departments have disposal containers usually in the department lobby. That includes Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon, with more to come.

Most departments take part with a few exceptions like Cecil and South Fayette townships. Some collections are at the department, like in Upper St. Clair, but others are at popular locations in the municipalities, like at the Bethel Park Community Center. Canonsburg has the drop-off at the Shop ‘N Save. In Peters Township, there are four sites ranging from Walgreens to the Dairy Bar to Firehouse Subs and Kmart.

There is no excuse. Cleaning out the medicine cabinet should occur more frequently than throwing away moldy cheese in the refrigerator. And while moldy cheese can’t kill any one, leaving unneeded prescriptions in the medicine cabinet can.

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