Time to Clear out Old Medicines

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We have previously written how pack-rat tendencies in their extreme form can be a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. With this in mind, I think it’s fair to say that many keep old medications in the medicine cabinet for those just in case emergencies, unlikely as they may be. This tendency toward saving prescription drugs has been reinforced by environmentalists, who point out that flushing them down the toilet is not a good solution, as one way or another they will end up in our drinking supply, since water filtration plants and systems have not been designed to filter out these substances. Likewise, dissolved medicines can leach through landfills and down into the water table.

Now the DEA gives us even another good reason to get rid of prescription medicines in a responsible manner: too many young people are finding medicines in the medicine cabinet and experimenting or abusing them:

— The Drug Enforcement Administration urged Americans on Saturday to turn in their old and unused prescription drugs as part of an effort by the agency to stop a rise in prescription drug abuse.

The drug take-back events, which the agency said took place at 4,000 sites across the country, provided the opportunity for people to drop off old medications safely and anonymously. The DEA plans to incinerate the drugs later in the week.

Holding the event was the first step in stopping what the DEA’s acting administrator calls a “worrisome” trend in teen drug use.

“It starts with getting the medicine out of the medicine cabinet,” Michelle Leonhart said. “It allows us to get out there and get the word out to communities, to parents, to teens, and even the elderly about the dangers of having this medicine sit and languish in the medicine cabinet.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released earlier this month, about 17 percent of Americans have abused prescription drugs, meaning they took medicine for non-medical reasons.

The survey found that in 2009, nearly 20 percent of 18-year-olds had abused prescription painkillers, an increase from 2008.

Deaths from overdoses of prescription painkillers are also on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unintentional deaths from such drugs as oxycodone and hydrocodone increased 110 percent from 1999 to 2005.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that teens are also abusing stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, and depressants like Valium or Xanax.

Washington, D.C., police chief Cathy Lanier says teenagers and young adults are particularly susceptible to prescription drug abuse.

“More recently what we’re seeing is young people and teens taking prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets, taking them to parties, sharing them with friends, not really knowing what it is they’re passing along,” Lanier said.

I’m confident that a google search for your locality will lead you to a place to turn in medications in an environmentally safe manner. An angler myself, I have read reports that high levels of SSRI’s in water systems have even been affecting the behaviors of some of the fish. We don’t want this happening to human beings.

For the full article:

CNN Article, September 27, 2010, Time to Throw Out Old Medicines

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