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SPOTLIGHT
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Taking back the drugs

Published on -4/25/2014, 4:25 PM

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The amount of out-of-date and unnecessary prescription drugs sitting in people's homes around the country is staggering, judging by how many get turned in to law enforcement agencies.

In an effort to help curb drug abuse by going after supplies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency several years ago began coordinating National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days.

The effectiveness of these efforts continue to amaze. In November, Americans turned in 324 tons of expired and unwanted medications for safe and proper disposal. Last spring, 371 tons were collected. All told, more than 3.4 million pounds of medication have been taken out of the reach of potential users.

Prescription drugs, especially pain killers, are the most abused drugs.

"You don't have to know a drug dealer," said Ellis County Sheriff's Department detective Chuck White. "You just have to know someone who is getting pain killers."

Law enforcement in northwest Kansas is acutely aware of this fact. That's why so many agencies will team up with the DEA once again this Saturday for another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. In Kansas, more than 22 tons of medications have been collected since 2010.

"Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment," said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. "Getting these leftover medicines out of the medicine cabinets keeps them from falling into the wrong hands and makes our communities safer."

According to a press release from the AG's office, studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

We would recommend highly that you conduct an inventory of your own cabinet, and take advantage of the free, anonymous drop-off sites. The medications will be accepted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

In Hays, sheriff's deputies and police officers will be working together. Prescription drugs can be taken to Hays Good Samaritan Center at 27th and Canal or to the parking lot north of the Law Enforcement Center.

Elsewhere, the Thomas County Law Enforcement Center in Colby will accept the medications or at the sheriff's offices in Goodland, Norton and WaKeeney.

"Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment," Schmidt said.

And because there is no decrease in the number of prescriptions being filled, there likely is no reason to believe the number of unwanted and expired medications will drop. Inspect your home and utilize the program if needed. It is an easy and effective way to prevent drugs from getting in the hands of somebody other than the original patient.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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