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Just Say 'Yo' to Prescription Drugs

Take your medicine ... to the drop off box in Cranberry Township for Drug Take-Back Day.

Hey! Want some Kit Kat, Uppers, Bounce, Roids, Acid, Ice, Boo or Slam?

Too bad; we’re pretty much out of the street drug business here. Cranberry has a different kind of drug problem through—prescription medicines. We’re not alone. According to U.S. authorities, prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuana use by teens in America. Most of the drugs come from the family's home medicine cabinet.

When my father-in-law succumbed to heart failure 10 years ago, he left behind a huge volume of the medications doctors had used to try try to keep him alive. Some of them were pretty expensive, and all of them were fresh. I’m sure they would have had real value to other patients with similar heart problems. At least in America, you couldn’t give prescription drugs away—even if they’re perfectly good life-saving ones. It was illegal. Instead, you had to stash or trash them. 

Regrettably, that hasn’t changed. I’m not aware of any charitable organization allowed to collect and reissue medication. I’m sure that’s contributed to the climbing cost of health care. Besides being wasteful, those laws have led to two other problems: an abundance of potentially dangerous drugs that could end up falling into the wrong hands, and an increasing volume of pharmaceuticals in our sanitary sewer lines that could ultimately taint our drinking water. 

Those problems have not escaped the attention of federal authorities. Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration partnered with local police and state environmental agencies to create a way to collect and dispose of surplus, outdated or unneeded prescriptions that didn’t involve normal trash collection or flushing medicine down the drain. 

They called it Drug Take-Back Day. For a few daylight hours on a Saturday, hundreds of police departments throughout the country became the no-questions-asked guardians for local drop-off collection sites. 

The program worked. In Cranberry alone, .  Those drugs, along with others collected by , were delivered to a regional DEA office for incineration. Last April, collected 187 pounds during a second drive. Even that is probably just a tip of the iceberg.

Along with dozens of other police departments in the area, Cranberry Police will once again set up a drive-by drug drop-off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 behind the .

Anyone can participate, and no one will be asked how they acquired those drugs.

Pills and capsules can be discarded either loose, or in their original containers. Ointments, creams and other forms of medicationincluding non-prescription medications—also are eligible for collection. There is no charge for the service.

Drug drives such as the ones Cranberry is involved in won’t put a big dent in the problem of illegal drug trafficking or abuse, and local officials know that. But, until there is a legal way to redirect good medicine to those who need it, collections like these can help to resolve a potentially dangerous housekeeping problem that sooner or later affects just about everyone.

Carolyn M. October 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I don't see a date...is this today at 10?
Jessica Sinichak October 17, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Sorry about that Carolyn. It's actually on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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