Safely Dispose of Opioids This Saturday
Cleaning out your medicine cabinet is about more than having a tidy bathroom. In an age of opioid addiction, it can also prevent leftover medications from getting into the wrong hands.
Dr. Alexis Reedy-Cooper, a staff physician in the department of family and community medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Herhsey Mecical Center, said opioid addiction continues to increase, and the DMV is no exception. There was even a report on Tuesday that Kanye West was suffering from opioid addiction during his 2016 hospitalization for an alleged nervous breakdown.
Doctors typically prescribe opioids to patients who break a bone or who are recovering from surgery. The dosage is a delicate balance between keeping the patient comfortable and preventing addiction.
“We try to give patients just enough so that there won’t be a lot of leftovers, but we can’t always guess how much someone is going to need,” Reedy-Cooper said. “We want patients to use the lowest dose necessary and use it for the least amount of time.”
Leftover pills can fall into the wrong hands. Patients can also become dependent on the euphoric state that these medications can produce. It is difficult for a person to wean themselves off of these types of medications when they have been on them for an extended period of time.
People wishing to discard their medications can do so at about 70 locations across the DMV including D.C., Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Arlington County, Alexandria and Fairfax County during the National Take Back Initiative’s biannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The event, which is open to the public, will be held Saturday, Apr. 28, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at about 70 locations around the DMV. It is designed to give the local community a convenient and easy way to dispose of any unused or expired medications. For a complete list of participating departments and locations, click here.
The drop-off program is completely anonymous and no identification is requested of people disposing of prescription medications. You are encouraged to remove identifying labels from containers.
If you can’t make it on Saturday, most area CVS and Walgreen pharmacies along with many police departments will safely dispose of old or expired prescriptions year-round, but you should call first to make sure your location participates.
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center contributed to this article.