You almost certainly have some and, in fact, you almost certainly have more than you did a few years ago. Now is your chance to get rid of them without putting people – or, for that matter, fish – at risk.
Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, designed as both an opportunity and a reminder to clear your medicine cabinet, in particular, and your house, in general, of all those unused and outdated pharmaceuticals.
There are very real reasons to rid your house of unused and/or expired medications. Topping the chart, prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s latest epidemic.
More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than six in 10 of those deaths involved an opioid, or painkiller.
Small surprise. The CDC also points out the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled since 1999.
Keeping drugs you no longer need in your cabinet is like keeping a cobra in your closet. It might seem contained safely enough because you know where it is and what it does, but you can’t control who else pokes their nose in and gets a deadly bite.
And please don’t flush the pills down the toilet. Even though that keeps them from curious little fingers or abusing addicts, the active ingredients can stay active after passing through a treatment plant.
An Associated Press investigation found drugs in water samples from 24 major metropolitan areas. So far, the doses have been so low as to not threaten humans, but drugs in the water are suspected of impacting fish, including discovery of fish in the Potomac River with both male and female characteristics, a result of exposure to estrogen-like drugs.
In fact, the risk to fish has been a topic of research at the local level for a decade. In 2005, the Times Leader reported on a study being done by King’s College that found reason to believe drugs in the water were impacting fish.
So gather any unused and expired pills – not liquids or syringes, which must be disposed of differently – and prepare to take them to a collection center. As reported in the Times Leader last week, police at Kingston Township, Hanover Township and Plains Township will operate drop-off sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
From now on, consider the proper disposal of pills part of your spring cleaning ritual.