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Drug Take-Back event provides important service
One of the biggest drug dangers to kids isn't the dealer on the corner, it's mom's medicine cabinet or the pill bottle beside grandpa's recliner.
According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most prevalent category of drug abuse in the United States.
Two-and-a-half times more Americans abuse prescription drugs than the number who use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined, according to the same source.
In 2010, 7 million people over the age of 12 used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in the month before they were surveyed, and one in 12 high school seniors used the pharmaceutical narcotic Vicodin for non-medical purposes during the previous year, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey. More than 5 percent used OxyContin, a potent narcotic, during the previous year.
Six of the top 10 substances abused by 12th graders were prescription or over-the-counter medications, and 2.4 million people 12 and older abused prescription drugs for the first time last year, an average of 6,600 a day.
Emergency room visits involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009 (1.2 million) are up 10 percent over 2008 (1.1 million) according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network.
So it's clear that prescription drugs must be kept under close control; but what about getting rid of out-dated or unwanted drugs?
No, don't flush them down the toilet. There's more and more evidence that they'll wind up in the environment, where studies have shown that pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants can significantly slow the development of frogs, and estrogen and other synthetic hormones in waste water have increased the feminization of fish and other aquatic organisms.
And, there's always the danger -- make that the likelihood -- that the same chemicals will wind up in our drinking water and food, with all the attendant risks.
To help deal with the problem, the McCook Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration, with support from Community Hospital, plan a Take-Back event in two weeks.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, the public is invited to to bring potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs to Community Hospital's front lobby, 1301 East H. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.
Both solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids such as cough syrup will be accepted.
* Prescription and over-the-counter medications will be accepted.
* Medications do not need to be in the original container.
* If disposing in the original container, please remove any identifying information from the prescription label before disposal.
* No needles will be accepted.
* A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times.
Last April, during the previous Take-Back event, Americans turned in 376,593 pounds -- 188 tons -- of medications at nearly 5,400 sites around the nation.