Monday, September 24, 2012

How to get rid of unwanted prescription drugs in E-town

Area residents have two options to dispose of unused or expired prescription medications.

Since July, the Elizabethtown Police Department has been collecting prescription pills in an effort to combat the abuse of prescription medications. The effort is a collaboration with Elizabethtown Area Communities That Care. The CTC has assisted with public awareness of the program by purchasing and placing informational brochures in the pharmacies in the greater Elizabethtown area. (Full disclosure: My wife is a board member of CTC).

"We have collected about 30 pounds of pills since inception of the program," said police Chief Jack Mentzer, who has called the collection an unqualified success. "We get about 3 to 5 drop offs per week. For the first month or so of the program we were experiencing 2 or more drop offs per day. The drop offs range from a few leftover prescription pills to gallon sized plastic bags filled with pills."

Mentzer emphasized that the collection in Elizabethtown is for prescription pills only. It does not include liquids, creams or inhaler type containers. Simply empty the pills from the original container into a clear plastic bag for drop off at the police department 600 S. Hanover St., Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The effort by the Elizabethtown Police Department is part of the Nation Prescription Drug Take Back initiative. Eventually, the collected medications will be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of their National Prescription Drug Take Back Program.

In addition, the Pennsylvania State Police will accept unwanted, expired and unused prescription drugs this Saturday, September 29, as part of DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., unwanted prescription medications may be dropped off at select state police barracks. No personal information is required for drop-off.  To find a drop-off location, visit www.psp.state.pa.us and click on the “Public Services’’ link on the left navigation menu.

As I mentioned above, my wife is a member of Elizabethtown CTC board, and she has said board members have discussed at length the abuse of prescription medications in Elizabethtown. A news release that Mentzer issued noted that destroying medications helps prevent “Pharming Parties.” Pharming is when individuals raid medicine cabinets (usually their parents’ or grandparents’) and take handfuls of pain medicines, anti-anxiety medicines, stimulants, anti-depressants or other drugs that may be available. Sometimes they even take heart or blood pressure medicine.

Drug abuse usually involves the quickest and cheapest way to get “high,” and nothing is cheaper or easier than stealing from a parents’ or grandparents’ drug supply.

Disposing of drugs by flushing them down the toilet or or throwing them into the trash can have adverse effects on the environment. Aside from possibly damaging the treatment facilities, sewage treatment plants are not able to remove all of the chemicals and therefore drugs may make it into our waterways which enter streams, rivers, wildlife and plant life. Additional information about the disposal of prescription drugs can be found on the Food & Drug Administration's website.

The DEA coordinated the first “National Prescription Drug Take Back” in 2010. The event was very successful when state, county, municipal and federal law enforcement partnered to collect more than 120 tons of unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medication throughout the United Sates. In 2012 the event collected a record 278 tons.

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