Happy spring. Clean out your medicine cabinet!
Apr. 19, 2023
By Mary Wade Burnside
Have you started spring cleaning yet? Even if you haven’t, this is a great time to tackle your bathroom — especially your medicine cabinet.
If you have unused medications piling up, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is almost here.
Various locations around Morgantown will be set up by the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department so people can drop off medications that are no longer being used. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Coordinated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this event is typically held twice a year, in April and October, to provide the opportunity for the safe disposal of drugs that might be around the house.
There are several reasons why this is important. Two of the major ones are environmental and the safety of household members.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns against flushing any drugs, unless instructions say to do so, so that the medications do not reach the wastewater system. The same could be said for just throwing away prescriptions, which could end up in a landfill and eventually get into a body of water.
Drug take-back events are the No. 1 recommended way to dispose of drugs, according to the EPA.
An acceptable second choice requires a bit of a process to safely put them in the garbage. Guidance calls for taking the meds out of their original bottle, mingling them with a substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds and then putting them in something like a plastic margarine container.
However, garbage disposal of drugs can also lead to dogs, cats and other animals getting sick if they decide to rummage through the trash. Did you know that human medications are the leading cause of pet poisoning?
Plus, it just seems easier to take them to Pierpont Landing Pharmacy or to Suncrest Kroger, to name a couple of the National Prescription Drug Take Back locations.
The other reason to dispose of the medications is that you don’t want any children or family members with memory issues to take prescriptions that are not meant for them, or to take the wrong dosage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading causes of emergency department visits for adverse drug events are blood thinners, antibiotics, diabetes medications and opioid analgesics, such as tramadol or fentanyl.
And, notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many prescriptions, especially those to help individuals sleep or treat pain as well as anxiety and other mood disorders, are often misused. Keeping them in a safe place, or, if possible, safely getting rid of them, is important.
Speaking of which, both Monongalia County Health Department and the Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT) recommend a product to actually keep in your medicine cabinet at all times: naloxone. Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. While many might not believe that’s not something they need to worry about, keep in mind that the aforementioned children, individuals with memory issues or just about anybody could get into a legitimately prescribed medication or take the incorrect dosage and need to be revived.
Also, unfortunately, there has been a rise of recreational drugs being cut with or otherwise laced with deadly fentanyl. This has been increasingly affecting families in the United States, often with heartbreaking results. It’s always better to be prepared for any situation.
In addition to the Suncrest Kroger and Pierpont Landing Pharmacy, other National Prescription Drug Take Back locations include the Village at Heritage Point, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department and Sam’s Club Pharmacy, with a table set up outside close to the Walmart side.
Additional locations might be announced before the event takes place. Check out this link for more sites and information.
And if you can’t make it on April 22, both the Morgantown and Granville police departments have year-round drop-off bins.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.