Summit County government invites residents to give their medicine cabinets a spring cleaning by bringing unused, unwanted and expired medications to the 9Health Fair from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 5, at Summit High School.
The annual prescription take-back event allows residents to safely dispose of medications, thereby helping to prevent substance abuse and pollution of local waterways.
The take-back event is made possible by a partnership of the Summit County Healthy Futures Initiative, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked of any participants.
“This is a great program, and we’re pleased to participate again this year,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor in a news release. “This not only helps keep prescription drugs out of the hands of kids, it also prevents unused medications from ending up in our landfill or water supply.”
To participate in the event, residents should leave medications in their original containers and mark out all personal information. Accepted items include prescription medication, controlled substance medication, over-the-counter medication, medication samples, vitamins, medicated lotions and ointments, inhalers, liquid medication in leak-proof containers and unopened transdermal skin patches.
Items not accepted include needles, lancets, thermometers, infectious waste, personal care products, medical marijuana, business waste and aerosol cans.
The sheriff’s office will document and destroy all the pharmaceuticals it collects through the event. Last year, 19 pounds of medication were collected and disposed of.
“Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is something we see quite a bit in Summit County,” said Jordan Schultz, coordinator of Healthy Futures Initiative, in the release. “Nationally, over 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtain them through friends or family members, so removing access to unused medications is an important abuse-prevention strategy.”
Medicines that sit unused in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse, the release stated. Their easy availability can also result in accidental poisonings and overdoses.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the nonmedical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in the country, and prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem.
Colorado ranks second among all states for misuse of prescription drugs, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than 255,000 Coloradans misuse prescription drugs, and Colorado deaths involving opioids quadrupled between 2000 and 2011.
Locally, 13 percent of Summit County youths ages 13 to 19 reported misusing prescription drugs, as compared with 19.6 percent of students statewide, according to the 2012 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Substance abuse is not the only concern related to unused prescription drugs, the release stated. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sewage systems are not equipped to remove pharmaceuticals, and certain drugs may cause ecological harm.
Prescription drugs should not be flushed down toilets or drains, the release stated.
Healthy Futures Initiative is a cooperative effort among local agencies and community organizations to reduce youth substance abuse through education and collaboration.
For more information about Healthy Futures Initiative or its projects, contact Coordinator Jordan Schultz at 668-9196 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the web site at www.summithealthyfutures.org.