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Alaska Editorial: Safe disposal

Posted: May 7, 2013 - 12:09am

This editorial first appeared in the Kodiak Daily Mirror:

It has become a regular event, like spring cleaning: drug collection days.

The first National Drug Collection Day of 2013 is Saturday. The idea is to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs so they don’t get into the wrong hands (people who will use them or sell them) or the wrong places (water bodies).

The events are sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which notes that “unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern, because they are highly susceptible to accidental ingestion, diversion, misuse, and abuse.”

One surprising, nay, shocking statistic from the DEA puts prescription drug abuse rate “higher than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, according to surveys of users.”

The take-back collections began in 2010, with one collection day that year, two in 2011 and two in 2012. Over those years, Alaskans have disposed of 9,377 pounds of such drugs — that’s close to 5 tons.

Only solid medications — no liquids or needles — will be accepted during Saturday’s take-back day. You can check the DEA’s web site at www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml

Click on the “Got drugs” link to put in your zip code to find collection locations. The site says locations are added daily, but so far, the Ketchikan sites are Alaska State Troopers headquarters on North Tongass and Ketchikan High School. Troopers say they will accept the drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Kayhi will be taking them during First City Expo, which begins at 10 a.m. in the gym.

Don’t dump those unused pills in the toilet or the garbage — turn them in to keep them out of circulation and out of our water. It’s easy, free and no questions will be asked.

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