Safely discard pills from your house during Drug Take Back Day

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service is encouraging Tennesseans to participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday, Oct. 23.
Although there are drop-off locations in the surrounding counties of Washington, Johnson, and Sullivan, there is no designated drop-off location in Carter County on that date. However, discarded drugs can be dropped off any day of the week at the Elizabethton Police Dept. and some pharmacies in town, including Food City, Wal-Green, and CVS Pharmacy on Highway 19-E outside of town. Drugs may also be dropped off at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
It’s a day designed as both an opportunity and a reminder to clear your medicine cabinet, in particular, and your house, in general, of all those unused and outdated pharmaceuticals.
You almost certainly have some and, in fact, you almost certainly have more than you did a few years go. Now is your chance to get rid of them without putting people — or for that matter, fish — at risk.
There are real reasons to rid your house of unused and/or expired medications. Topping the chart, prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s latest epidemic.
It’s no secret that opioid abuse has become a major problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that two-thirds of drug overdose deaths between 2015 and 2016 were opioid-involved overdoses. Tragically, the numbers continue to rise. It is urgent that we act to address the epidemic that is sweeping our nation.
In the last decade, the United States has experienced exponential growth in opioid addiction and abuse. Nearly half of people who report misusing prescription drugs received them from a friend or got them from a family member’s medicine cabinet, and prescribed pain killers are one source fueling the epidemic both nationally and here in Tennessee. As the problem continues to worsen, we are exploring new ways to stop its deadly progression and help provide relief to Tennesseans and all Americans struggling with addiction.
Keeping drugs you no longer need in your cabinet is like keeping a cobra in your closet. It might seem contained safely enough because you know where it is and what it does, but you can’t control who else pokes their nose in and gets a deadly bite.
And please don’t flush the pills down the toilet. Even though that keeps them from curious little fingers or abusing addicts, the active ingredients can stay active after passing through a treatment plant.
An Associated Press investigation found drugs in water samples from 24 major metropolitan areas. So far, the doses have been so low as to not threaten humans, but drugs in the water are suspected of impacting fish, including discovery of fish in the Potomac River with both male and female characteristics, a result of exposure to estrogen-like drugs.
So gather any unused and expired pills — not liquids or syringes, which must be disposed of differently, and prepare to take them to a collection center.
From now on, consider the proper disposal of pills part of your spring and fall cleaning ritual.