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Earth Friendly: National Medication Take Back Initiative

By By Marie Lester
April 5, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 4, 2012 at 11:05 p.m.


What's in your medicine cabinet? Pain medication, antibiotics, supplements, diet pills, antihistamines? More and more medications are prescribed and purchased over the counter than ever.

When you are feeling better, or nice and thin after dieting, what do you do with the leftover or expired medications? More than likely, they are still in your medicine cabinet taking up space.

It is important to clear out your medicine cabinet on a regular basis. Keeping medications around that are expired or unused can pose a threat to you and your family. Expired medications are not safe to use as their chemical compositions change as they decompose. They also lose their effectiveness.

The number one source of poisoning in children in the United States is medications. Every day, 165 children are taken to the emergency room due to medication poisoning from accidental ingestion, improper dosing or overdosing from taking medicines because they taste good.

Leftover medications may also be tempting to an experimenting teen. Basically, the less cluttered your medicine cabinet is the better.

Here are a few tips for preventing medication poisonings: •  Store medications in a safe location out of sight and reach of young children (even if another dose needs to be given in a few hours).

•  Never refer to medication as candy.

•  Ask guests to keep coats, purses and bags that have medications up and away and out of sight whey they are in your home.

•  Close child-resistant caps on medication bottles every time.

Proper disposal of medications is also important to protect the environment. The Victoria County Sheriff's Office is hosting the National Medication Take Back Initiative on April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public can safely dispose of expired, unused or unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications at this one-day event.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office will collect medications, no questions asked, at 101 N. Glass St. in downtown Victoria. Collection will be performed with a drive through line so you will not have to get out of your vehicle. Medications do not have to be labeled and they do not have to be in your name. Illegal drugs will not be accepted. There is no cost to use this service.

Collected medications will be shipped to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston. The DEA follows federal disposal regulations. According to the DEA, this is the only program where controlled medications can be turned in, no questions asked, to be destroyed. Last year, approximately 189 tons of medications were collected through this initiative.

This initiative is an important way to prevent and reduce injury related to accidental ingestion of these substances caused by keeping the substances in your home. Proper disposal of these substances also protects the environment.

If you cannot bring your medications to the National Take Back Initiative at the Sheriff's Office on April 28, there are other ways to dispose of medications.

First, check your medications for disposal instructions and follow the procedures listed if available.

Second, call your pharmacy to see if they offer a take back program for the substances you have.

Third, the city of Victoria landfill is permitted to accept medications, so if you live in or around Victoria it is legal to dispose of medications in your residential garbage.

If you plan to dispose of medications with your household garbage, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends:•  Leaving them in their original container or a hard-sided container

•  Mix them with undesirable substances such as kitty litter, coffee grounds or saw dust.

•  Remove or mark over all labels that identify the medications to prevent theft and substance abuse.

•  For more information, please contact Abel Arriazola at 361-574-8015.

Marie Lester, is the Environmental Programs Coordinator for the City of Victoria's Environmental Services Department. You may contact her with topic ideas, inspiration, questions and comments at cmlester@victoriatx.org.

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