ESCANABA - Spring cleaning may be underway in many area homes, but when it comes to disposing of unused medications residents need to think twice to prevent drug abuse.
While prescription drugs used responsibly can be effective treatments for many medical issues, the abuse rate in the United States is quite high. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration an estimated 52 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetime. Most of these abused drugs are acquired from family members or friends who may not even know the drugs are missing.
Because prescription drugs that are not used for medicinal reasons are susceptible to misuse, the DEA has established two National Prescription Drug Take-Back days. The next Take-Back Day is scheduled for April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the Take-Back, drugs can be dropped off at the First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba.
Escanaba Public Safety Department photo
Above, 150 pounds of prescription drugs were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for disposal during last fall’s take-back program. Medications will be collected at the First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba during a National Prescription Drug Take-Back event on April 26.
"While our department appreciates the DEA's effort in getting the problem of prescription drug abuse brought to the forefront, our professional opinion on the matter is that the two dedicated days per year isn't enough," said Escanaba Public Safety Director Ken Vanderlinden in a statement issued on the department's Facebook page last week.
To further combat the problem of unused prescription drugs Escanaba Public Safety has installed a Med-Return unit in the lobby of the Escanaba Public Safety building located at 1900 3rd Ave N. The unit has a pull-down deposit slot reminiscent of a U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
"Our receptacle is available 24/7, 365 days a year," Capt. Jamie Segorski told the Daily Press, adding that anyone - including those that are not residents of Escanaba - could drop off their unused medications with no questions asked.
The Med-Return, which was purchased with the assistance of the Community Foundation for Delta County, has been a success for the department. In 2012 Public Safety took in 22 pounds of prescription drugs for disposal. In 2013, the first full year of the receptacle being available to the public, 279 pounds were collected.
"Before then we didn't have a formalized program," said Segorski, noting the department did take prescriptions from individuals who brought in unused medications prior to installing the Med-Return.
Medications that are brought to Take-Back Day events or are dropped off in the Med-Return receptacle at Public Safety are given to the DEA for proper disposal. This prevents medications from ending up in the water supply, as frequently happens when medications are flushed down toilets and travel to water treatment plants that are not equipped to remove drug chemicals. It also keeps the drugs out of landfills, which can sometimes leak the drug chemicals into soil or ground water supplies.