The Garden City Telegram
9/26/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Drug dump

Program helps residents eliminate known hazard.

Drug abuse harms every community.

The problem has grown to include not only the abuse of such illicit drugs as methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, but also the drugs commonly found in medicine cabinets.

As part of a nationwide program, local residents have been urged to dispose of their unneeded prescription drugs in a safe way, before they fall into the wrong hands.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday features drop-off sites for disposal of unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs. It's one of multiple opportunities each year in Kansas and beyond.

Locally, Garden City police participated in the last drop-off program in April. The next such local initiative coordinated through the federal Drug Enforcement Administration hadn't been set as of Tuesday.

But even without an actual drop-off opportunity, the nationwide effort still serves as an important reminder to keep drugs commonly found at home from doing harm.

Federal law enforcement officials consider prescription drug abuse the nation's fastest-growing drug problem.

Burglaries and other crimes often involve the theft and misuse of prescription medications. Studies also show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Young children sometimes get their hands on prescription drugs, which can bring tragic results in accidental poisonings and overdoses. Older students too often show up at school under the influence of their parents' prescription drugs.

The good news is more Kansans are heeding the warnings.

Previous Drug Take Back Days produced a bounty of prescription drugs for disposal. In April, Kansans dumped 8,753 pounds of drugs.

It's also worth noting that as careful as people may be, putting prescription drugs in the trash isn't advised, as they may be retrieved. And flushing pills down a sink or toilet doesn't help the water supply.

Until the next Drug Take Back Day arrives, anyone with unneeded prescription drugs should keep them locked up. Some pharmacies also accept the drugs for disposal.

Either way, it's necessary to be vigilant in discarding the drugs properly, and by doing so also eliminate a potential threat lurking at home.