Do you have expired, unneeded or leftover prescription medications sitting in your medicine cabinet, perhaps tempting curious teens to try them out?
Experts caution against flushing the pharmaceuticals, which can contaminate the water supply. Tossing them in the trash is risky, too, because someone may steal them.
So, what to do with those drugs?
On Saturday, you can safely get rid of them by taking them to the Port Carbon, Slatington or Walnutport police departments between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. From there, the drugs will be disposed of safely and destroyed. The service is free and anonymous.
The Port Carbon police department is within the Port Carbon Senior Center at Pike and Washington streets. The Slatington police department is at 125 S. Walnut St. The Walnutport Police Department is in borough hall at 417 Lincoln Avenue.
Saturday is the nation's first Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
The initiative aimed at stemming the rising tide of prescription drug abuse is an effort of a partnership among the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and government, community, public health and law enforcement.
"This initiative is an important step at eradicating prescription drug abuse in our communities," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett. "More teens are abusing prescription narcotics and over the counter medicines than ever before; and they are finding these drugs in friend's or parent's medicine cabinets."
Corbett said that the rate of prescription drug abuse in the United States is increasing faster than ever before. In the past year, the attorney feneral's office has arrested more than 300 people involved with abusing or selling prescription drugs. Many of those arrested were doctors, nurses or medical professionals.
Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
"The Bureau of Narcotics Investigation agents are very active in investigating medical professionals who are illegally using prescription pain medication," Corbett said. "Prescription drugs can be just as deadly as heroin or cocaine and can lead to a multitude of other problems. It is extremely unsettling that prescription drug abuse cases involving doctors, whom we trust with our care, are becoming more and more common."
He said that a common misconception with prescription drug disposal is that it is safe to flush unwanted medicine down the toilet or simply throw them away. However, both are potential safety and health hazards.
"With this National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign, we are aggressively reaching out to individuals to encourage them to rid their households of unused prescription drugs that pose a safety hazard and can contribute to prescription drug abuse," said Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler. "The Department of Justice is committed to doing everything we can to make our communities safer, and this initiative represents a new front in our efforts."