The Drug Take Back Day in Chewelah will be Saturday, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Akers United Drug to encourage the proper disposal of prescription drugs and educate the community on the epidemic problem of prescription drug abuse. This event will be held in conjunction with the National Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).
Jim Tilla, president of non-profit Prescriptions for Life, said some people, especially in the older demographic, collect a lot of pills over the years for various problems, but do not dispose of them once they are no longer needed. Tilla said these patients either do not know what to do with the drugs or have a hard time getting rid of something they already paid for.
Prescriptions for Life is an organization committed to the elimination of pain medication abuse in its respective community and to providing prescription pain medication monitoring and treatment options.
When Prescriptions for Life held their first Drug Take Back Day in September 2010, Tilla said only eight people brought back their unneeded prescription medication, but it amounted to 15 pounds of pills.
According to Tilla, the Drug Take Back event will accept any kind of drugs, including narcotics, no questions asked. The drugs will then be incinerated and destroyed.
Unsecured drugs in a home are a potential danger to young children, Tilla said, and he advises that all prescriptions be kept in their original childproof bottles until they can be disposed of properly.
What’s in your medicine cabinet?
In addition, the FDA warns that it is harmful to share prescriptions with anyone else because doctors prescribe them based on a person’s specific symptoms and medical history.
However, Tilla said many people are just unaware of what they are storing in their medicine cabinets.
Local and national organizations recommend safe disposal of all unused prescription medications to reduce the risk of unintentional overdose and illegal abuse, particularly because a majority of abusers obtain their drugs for free from family and friends’ medicine cabinets without their knowledge.
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), proper drug disposal should take place immediately once the medication is no longer useful to the patient to avoid feeding such a growing problem in society, and to be especially careful with highly addictive prescription narcotics.
These drugs include pain relievers, stimulants, and central nervous system depressants.
The FDA says that most medications can be thrown in the household trash with certain precautions, but recommends flushing as the safest route of disposal for prescription narcotics and controlled substances.
‘Dispose of them in way they can’t be reused…’
However, Debbie Akers, owner of Akers United Drug in Chewelah, said the best solution would be to take the drugs out of their original packaging, mix them in with a soiled diaper or kitty litter, and throw them in the trash in a sealed container. This keeps the drugs unrecognizable to a potential abuser while not risking the contamination of the water or environment.
“Dispose of them in a way they can’t be reused,” Akers said.
Both solutions are recommended in the FDA’s guidelines for proper disposal, which recommends that drugs not be flushed unless specifically indicated on the bottle.
To dispose of the high quantity of drugs they deal with on a regular basis, Akers said her pharmacy ships off packages of unusable medications daily. She allows patients to bring their personal unneeded or expired medications to the store to be included in that shipment except prescription narcotics and C2 drugs because they are treated as controlled substances and must be tracked.
Akers said there is no reason to keep unneeded prescriptions, even vitamins, because they expire and become useless to the patient.
Brenda St. John, secretary for Prescriptions for Life and mother of four, joined the organization shortly after she discovered she had old prescription narcotics in her cupboards, which she had forgotten about.
“I was sure there was nothing dangerous in my medicine cabinet,” stated St. John. “But I was wrong.”
Abusers will feign interest in houses for sale to search through medicine cabinets because they know the odds are high that they will find drugs there, Tilla said. He said the pills are easy to pocket and the theft often goes unnoticed, especially if only a few are taken at a time.
Now Prescriptions for Life has been warning realtors in the community to tell their clients to clean out their cabinets before showing a house, and Tilla encourages everyone to take a look in their own medicine cabinet because they might be surprised by what they find.
For more information about Prescriptions for Life, or about the Drug Take Back event, call (509) 935-4529.
For a full list of medications that are safe to flush, go to www.fda.gov/consumer .