BY SHERI TRUSTY
The DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 22 encourages people to take a peak and take action. The event, an initiative of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is a reminder for citizens to look through their medicine cabinets for out-of-date and unneeded medication and then dispose of the medication properly.
There are two simple ways for Ottawa County residents to dispose of unneeded prescription drugs. Police department drug collection boxes and Deterra drug deactivation bags.
Local police departments have on-site drug collection boxes where residents can drop off medication seven days a week. In Port Clinton, the collection box is conveniently located right inside the door of the police department
“Many people prefer to go to their local police department, where they can catch up with the officers,” said Ottawa County Health Department Health Educator Michelle Veliz.
For those who prefer to dispose of medications at home, Deterra drug deactivation bags are available at the Ottawa County Health Department. The bags are powered by activated carbon which binds to the active ingredients in drugs, leaving them inert and safe for disposal in household trashcans.
“You just have to add warm water, seal the bag, and throw it away,” Veliz said.
Medication that is not disposed of properly can have a detrimental impact on the environment. Many people flush their medication down the toilet, but that medication has the potential to reach tap water and natural water sources. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can reach bacteria that purifies wastewater in treatment plants, and the drugs present in the water can become “more or less toxic than the parent drug, or they may even return to their original forms,” said Veliz.
Drug Take Back Day and Earth Day are both recognized on April 22.
“It’s no mistake the day coincides with Earth Day because of environmental implications. There are devastating implications when people flush their meds,” Veliz said.
The safe disposal of medication can also have an impact inside the home because unused medications kept at home pose dangers. Outdated medication is unsafe for use, and curious teens have the opportunity to experiment with dangerous prescription drugs.
Drug Take Back Day is a good day to take inventory of prescription drugs and properly dispose of any unneeded medications. At the same time, locals are encouraged to make a list of current medications and emergency contacts for first responders in case of an emergency. The information should be written on File of Life magnets and placed on the refrigerator for easy access. File of Life magnets are available through Ottawa County Senior Resources.
“If first responders come to a home, they need something with that information in sight. We forget about that,” Veliz said.
On DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the health department hopes county residents will take a peak in their medicine cabinets and take action to keep their homes safe.
“Most people with substance abuse struggles got involved because of what was in their medicine cabinet. Teens start experimenting,” said Veliz. “It’s very dangerous. Accidental overdoses happen all the time because we forget what’s in our homes.”