Get rid of your old meds

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Saturday, Nov. 13, three communities in Barry County will be sponsoring "Take Back" events that give area residents an opportunity to drop off their outdated or unused prescription medications. Drop-off sites will be available in Cassville, Washburn and Exeter, and we hope area residents will use them.

The purpose behind the "Take Back" effort is to motivate area residents to inventory their home medicine cabinets and get rid of old medications. Too often we keep leftover prescriptions around the house, and the reasons for this are justifiable. Medication is expensive, making it hard to throw away pills you paid for, and we're often prescribed more pills than we need, especially when it comes to pain medication. It is these forgotten vials of pills that can become a temptation to teenagers.

As adults, it's up to us to keep our medications under lock and key and make sure we are not contributing to teen drug abuse. It may not be your child stealing drugs out of your medicine cabinet; it could be a friend of your child. Survey after survey prove that family medicine cabinets are a teenager's prime source for prescription medication. Based on the latest surveys conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in seven teens have abused prescription drugs and 63 percent of those teens say they get their prescription drugs from their home medicine cabinets. Over half of the high school students surveyed said prescription drugs were easier to obtain than illegal drugs.

And for those who believe prescription drug abuse is less dangerous than the use of illegal drugs, think again. Pain killers like oxycontin and vicodin, which are favorites among those who abuse prescription drugs, are highly addictive opiates. Kids are not only swallowing these pills, but they are crushing them and shooting them up or snorting them. Don't be fooled - prescription drugs are just as dangerous as heroin or methamphetamine.

It also should be noted that drug abuse knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Kids from "good" families and "bad" families get hooked on drugs. Parents should never think their child is not susceptible to the allure of drugs. One of the best things we can do as adults is to make sure we know where our kids are and who they are hanging out with and then we need to make sure our homes are a safe place for kids to gather. One of the best ways we can do this is to make sure our medications are locked up and off limits. Keep track of your medication and make sure you get rid of those vials of two or three pain pills you might be keeping around the house.

The "Take Back" events in Cassville, Exeter and Washburn are the perfect time to get rid of those old prescriptions. It is not recommended that prescription medication be flushed down the toilet, so the drop-off sites provide a safe alternative for disposing of old meds.

Nov. 13 is a week and a half away, which gives you plenty of time to conduct an inventory of your medications. By participating in this county-wide effort you'll be doing your part to combat teenage drug abuse by limiting teens exposure to prescription medications. Join the fight, you'll be glad you did.