Special to the Daily News
Last year, West Virginia was proclaimed the most medicated state in the nation.
With prescription drugs readily accessible to most residents, the chance for abuse or misuse of those drugs grows exponentially with each medication prescribed.
In an attempt to limit access to these drugs, the Strong Through Our Plan (STOP) Coalition and the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department will participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative on Saturday, April 28.
The event, which offers a confidential and safe way to dispose of medications, will be held at the Williamson State Police Detachment, 200 East Third Avenue, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“For the public’s safety, it is best for people to bring in prescription drugs to be disposed of properly,” Chief Field Deputy James Smith of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, said. “This take back event will help reduce criminal activity while helping the community to come together to get prescription drug abuse out of our county.”
The MCSD and STOP participated in the DEA’s two take back initiatives in 2011, gathering over 1,000 unused and expired medications which were then destroyed by the DEA.
Properly disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication ensures that they are not readily available to youth. Non-medical prescription drug use rates second highest amongst all youth illicit drug users. Nationally, 10 percent of youth aged 12-25 reported non-medical use of prescription drugs in the last 30 days according to statistics gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Other SAMHSA statistics say that 75 percent of prescription drugs that are abused or misused are not purchased off the street or written by a physician, but are given by, bought from or stolen from a family member or a friend.
Though helpful when properly taken under the supervision of a doctor, prescription medication can be toxic to the environment if flushed down the toilet or thrown away with the trash. In fact, discarded medication is getting into the nation’s waste water treatment plants and getting into drinking water supplies.
Scientists with the United States Geological Society conducted a study of over 130 rivers, streams and other waterways in the U.S. and found antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, seizure medication, cancer treatments, pain killers, tranquilizers and cholesterol-lowering compounds in over 80 percent of those tested.
Legally, to properly dispose of prescription medication, they must either be destroyed by the owner of the prescription or given to law enforcement for destruction.
The take-back initiative will accept the following materials for destruction: prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, tablets/pills/capsules, patches, vitamins, supplements, inhalers, suppositories, homeopathic remedies and liquid medications in leak-proof containers.
The following items cannot be accepted: IV bags, blood or infectious waste, nebulizers, oxygen tanks, mercury thermometers and needles.
For more information on the DEA’s National Take-Back Initiative, visit www.dea.gov. For more information on the STOP Coalition, call (304) 664-3986 or visit www.drugfreemingo.org.