A safe way to get rid of unused medications | In Our Opinion

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drug abuse is on the rise and is second only to marijuana. According to the agency, young adults ages 18 to 25 have the highest rate of prescription drug abuse, followed by teens ages 12 to 17. Some 71,000 children under the age of 18 are seen every year in emergency rooms due to unintentional prescription or over-the-counter medication overdoses.

In many cases, medications are obtained from friends or from home. The Take Back Your Medicine Event offers an easy and safe way for Kitsap residents to dispose of expired and unused medications.

On April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Count on Kitsap to Reduce Substance Abuse Coalition, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, the Port Orchard Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration will partner in a medicine “take back” event in two locations. One location is the Sheriff’s Office in the Kitsap Mall, located near the food court. The other location is Port Orchard City Hall, at 216 Prospect St., in Port Orchard. People returning medicines will not be asked for any information – the take-back is anonymous. To date, almost 13.5 tons of unwanted medicines have been collected at official Take Back events in Washington state.

According to the Count on Kitsap to Reduce Substance Abuse Coalition, left-over medicines can be dangerous to those you love. Studies show that most prescription drug abuse occurs when people take medicines that belong to friends and family. In Washington state, prescription medication overdoses have overtaken car accidents as the No. 1 cause of accidental deaths.

Improperly discarded medicines pollute our environment. When you flush medicines down the toilet, you pollute our environment with chemicals that make their way to our drinking water, swimming beaches and shellfish harvesting beds. Medicines contain chemicals categorized as hazardous waste. In Kitsap County, it is illegal to put hazardous waste into your garbage.

After the take-back event, Kitsap residents can take medications to several locations in Kitsap and Mason counties. For details, call the Kitsap Public Health District, (360) 337-5235, or visit www.kitsappublichealth.org and search “waste handling A-Z.”

Want to get involved in advocating for safe medicine disposal? Call Mary Ellen de la Peña at the coalition, (360) 337-4878. The coalition is a program sponsored by the Kitsap Public Health District and funded by a federal Drug-Free Communities grant.


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