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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dispose of Prescription Medications Safely

The home medicine cabinet can be a place of concern for one's kids, because they often contain prescription narcotics that if taken improperly can be extremely dangerous. Often times, a teenager's first exposure to hard drugs is in their own home, a place that is supposed to be safe for children. Parents who are prescribed medications after having surgical procedures or back injuries generally take their prescribed pain medication until the pain dissipates, often leaving a number of pills in the bottle that sit on the medicine cabinet shelf collecting dust. Teenagers come across the pills and decide that since they are prescription drugs that they are probably harmless and may be a lot of fun.

President Obama in October signed a federal law making it easier for communities to start programs allowing people to safely dispose of old medications. The Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act is urging local communities to start such programs. The law was passed in response to the problem of people abusing, selling or unsafely discarding old medications, according to USA Today. Secure drop boxes are being provided, where people can dispose unused or unwanted drugs. The medications are then taken and disposed of through proper channels, such as incineration and taking the drugs to hazardous-waste landfills. In Marathon County, WI, a drug disposal program has collected more than 1,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals in the past year, as well as nearly 500 pounds of controlled medications including painkillers.

The Environmental Protection Agency used to recommend flushing unused medications, but scientists are now discovering small amounts of drugs in lakes and rivers across the country which creates new health risks. If you are someone you know has children and unused medications, you should do the right thing and dispose of them and encourage your peers to do the same.

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