Saturday’s National Drug Take Back collects unused medicines

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Perry Police Department Sgt. Jim Archer left, and Police Chief Eric Vaughn will stand by to receive expired or unused medications at Saturday's DEA National Drug Take-Back event at the Perry Hy-Vee from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Perry-area residents with expired or unused medications can safely dispose of them between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Perry Hy-Vee in the Perry Police Department’s participation in the 2019 Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take-Back.

There is no need to remove the drugs from the packaging, according to the Perry Police Department. Needles and inhalers will not be accepted.

Take-backs for prescription drugs are organized and closely monitored by local, state and federal government agencies, ensuring the proper disposal of the drugs in accordance with federal law. The dangers of improperly disposed drugs are various.

While 137 lives lost to opioid-related overdose deaths last year is double the number from 20 years ago, progress is being made, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, which reported a 33 percent drop in the last year. Additionally, roughly a quarter of a billion doses of controlled prescription drugs were dispensed in Iowa last year, the lowest level in six years.

A growing concern across the U.S. is prescription medications being taken from medicine cabinets or the trash by those who abuse drugs. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. Take Back Day provides an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addictions and overdose deaths.

Approximately 60 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers indicate they obtained the prescription drugs from friends or relatives for free, often taking the drugs without permission.

Children or pets may ingest undisposed or improperly disposed medications. This can lead to overdose, injury and even death.

Many people believe flushing or simply throwing away drugs is the best way to dispose of them, but the drugs can contaminate the ground and waterways if not disposed of properly. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove or process many compounds found in medications. Instead, when flushed or put in a landfill, the drugs are discharged into our surface and ground water.

Pharmaceutical contaminants in water have been shown to cause serious harm to fish and wildlife living in and near rivers and lakes. Humans can also be exposed to these chemicals when they drink water drawn from contaminated bodies of water or eat wild game or fish. The long-term human health risks from exposure to even very small amounts of these chemicals is not yet known.

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