(StatePoint) What do you do with your unused prescription pills and over-the-counter medications? Do you throw them away? Flush them down the toilet? Simply leave them in your cabinet for a rainy day?
Doing any of the above can provoke tragic consequences including enabling the drugs to get into the wrong hands or find their way into drinking water and irrigation supplies. That’s why it’s crucial to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medications and nutritional supplements.
According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one-quarter of first-time illegal drug users 12 years and older began by using prescription drugs non-medically.
Prescription drugs are abused far more frequently than illicit drugs for one simple reason: they can be found in almost every home, free for the taking. What’s more, drug overdose deaths, mostly related to addictive painkillers, rose for the 11th straight year in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And while it sounds quick and easy to flush pills down the toilet or throw them in the wastebasket, this method can be harmful to the environment and to people’s health. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly 80 percent of recently tested rivers contained traces of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, steroids, hormones and contraceptives.
So how can the average person go from being part of the problem to being part of the solution?
Begin by examining every prescription you bring into your home. Ask your doctor to ensure he or she is prescribing in the amount you will use.
Consider locking your medicine cabinet or moving prescriptions to a secure location, safe from the unwelcome explorations of children or intruders.
Remove any leftover drugs from your home promptly and dispose of them in a way that has as little environmental impact
“Drug take-back programs are a great way to get rid of unused medications,” says John Waffenschmidt, Vice President of Community Affairs and Environmental Science at Covanta Energy, the largest owner and operator of “Energy-from-Waste” facilities in North America. Covanta works with organizations to provide safe disposal of medications collected by drug take-back programs. The company does so free of charge, safely disposing of drugs at its facilities.
Since its inception in 2010, Covanta’s Rx4Safety program is responsible for having destroyed more than 600,000 pounds of unwanted medications nationwide. Partnerships like these have resulted in the proliferation of successful drug take-back programs that allow prescription drugs to be dropped off at secure locations, such as police stations or at special events held throughout the year, for transport to facilities where they can be destroyed safely.
If you think you may have unwanted prescription pills in your cabinet, take the time to collect them for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Take-Back Day on April 27, 2013.
Drug collection drop boxes in Ada County
Starting April 1, unwanted medications and old prescriptions can be dropped off to the Eagle Fire and Police Public Safety Building, 1119 East State Street, Suite 240/260. The clearly labeled green bin is in the lobby. Boise City Police drop box location is at 333 N. Sailfish 83704 and is open 8 am – 5 pm, Monday thru Friday. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is at 7200 Barrister Dr.; access to the collection bin is available 8 am – 4 pm, Monday thru Friday. The Garden City Police Department is at 301 E 50th and is open 8 am – 5 pm, Monday thru Friday. Meridian Police Department is at 1401 E Watertower St.
The medications may be bagged and liquid containers need to be in their original containers and sealed in plastic bags to prevent spills. Please do not leave items that won’t fit in the drop box chute. (Ask at the counter for assistance.) Items not accepted are needles, lancets, pen needles, aerosol cans, bloody or infections waste, hydrogen peroxide, thermometers and IV bags.
The Eagle, Boise, Garden City, Meridian and Ada County Sheriff’s Office program is for residential use only. Medications from commercial facilities are prohibited by law.
For more information about the program, visit www.curbitboise.org/hhw or call 384-3901.