Remove potential drug sources from your home

Published 4:40 pm Thursday, April 21, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

We may not realize it, but each of us could be fueling someone’s addiction to medications such as pain killers or cough syrup.

I didn’t think about that possibility until I began working on a story about an upcoming police medication take-back day at the Pelham Police Department. Like most people, I have a few leftover pills in the back of my medicine cabinet from a previous illness or injury.

Like many of us, I have no idea how many leftover pills I have in my cabinets, and I don’t think I would realize of any of them were missing.

According to national studies, its an all-too-common occurrence, as about 70 percent of teens who admit they have abused prescription or over-the-counter medications say they got the substances from their parents’ homes or a relative’s home.

Adults and teens who enter our homes every day could be battling addiction problems, and unsecured or leftover medications could potentially fuel those addictions.

I applaud the Pelham Police Department for scheduling their second medication take-back day for April 30. While I was speaking with police Capt. Larry Palmer on Thursday, I was blown away to learn the department collected nearly 70 pounds of medications during their first take-back day in 2010.

When you think of how little a single pill weighs, it becomes hard to imagine what 67 pounds of medication would look like.

“A lot of people say they never realized drugs came from that source,” Palmer told me. “They say ‘We didn’t want to hurt the environment, so we didn’t flush them.’ This gives them a perfect opportunity to get rid of that stuff.”

The police will not ask any questions when you drop off your controlled or non-controlled medications, and you can drop them off at the department without even getting out of your car.

In fact, the Pelham police will never actually come in contact with the medications collected that day. After a collection box is filled, the officers will seal it and turn it over to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which will properly dispose of the substances.

Nobody likes the idea of contributing to a community’s drug problem. By cleaning out your unused medication during the police department’s take-back day, you could ensure that doesn’t happen.